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’Jackets jumpstart their offense in fourth quarter, beat Alameda

By Tim Haran Daily Planet Correspondent
Thursday February 15, 2001

Senior forward Louis Riordan scored a game high 20 points Tuesday night, including five 3-pointers, as Berkeley High defeated Alameda 66-50. 

The win pushed the Yellowjackets to a perfect 10-0 in the Alameda Contra Costa Athletic League and 19-5 overall, clinching the league title. The visiting Hornets dropped to 5-4 in the league and 12-11 overall. 

But for a team that has dominated the ACCAL this year, the ’Jackets found themselves outrebounded and outhustled for most of the game by a more intense Hornets team. Berkeley clung to a narrow lead throughout the first three quarters before stepping up its own intensity and outscoring Alameda 20-11 in the final period of play. 

“We were fortunate to have a scare like this and still be able to win the game,” said Berkeley Coach Mike Gragnani after the ’Jackets notched their 12th straight victory. “It didn’t cost us a loss to teach us something at this point in the season.” 

After jumping to an early 13-2 lead, Berkeley went cold from the field and missed several outside shots. Alameda capitalized on the long rebounds and cut the ’Jackets lead to eight points at the end of the first quarter. 

The Hornets maintained momentum early in the second period, scoring the first six points of the quarter and eventually grabbing their first lead since the game’s opening minute on a three-pointer by Quincy Scurry with 2:11 left in the half. Scurry scored seven of his 11 points in the quarter and Brian Brooks added another five. Two players scored all of Berkeley’s second quarter points: Riordan with eight and guard Ryan Davis adding four. 

“We came out really flat,” Riordan said of the team’s first half performance. “They were just beating us down the court and we had no intensity on defense.” 

Gragnani added that the ‘Jackets have played several games this season where they’ve built big leads before letting the other team back in the game. 

“We’ve been jumping on teams and then resting,” he said. “It’s just a sign of an inexperienced team.” 

In fact, only Riordan and senior guard Ramone Reed had any varsity experience prior to this season.  

“We’re in uncharted waters,” Gragnani added. “Most of our team’s never been in a situation like this before. They’ve got to respond to it and if we don’t, it’s going to cost us big down the stretch.” 

Sparking the ‘Jackets in the fourth quarter with eight points was guard Byron St. Jules. His key steal and layup with 6:32 remaining stretched the Berkeley lead to 50-41. Then the offense kicked in as the ‘Jackets scored 16 points in the final five minutes of the game. 

“We get the lead and then we don’t maintain the same intensity,” St. Jules said. “We should be playing fourth quarter ball all game.” 

Behind Riordan’s 20, Berkeley’s St. Jules finished with 14 points, Davis added 13 and post men Reed and Jahi Milton each tossed in six. 

Nine Berkeley High seniors were recognized prior to playing in their next to last regular season game as a ‘Jacket. Berkeley travels to Encinal on Feb. 20 before finishing its league play against El Cerrito at home on Feb. 23.