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St. Mary’s lights up Justin-Siena 82-65

By Jared Green Daily Planet Staff
Friday March 02, 2001

Facing a hostile road crowd and overzealous referees, the St. Mary’s boys’ basketball team advanced to the semifinals of the North Coast Section Division IV playoffs, beating Justin-Siena (Napa) 82-65 on Thursday night. 

The top-seeded Panthers had to travel to Napa because of NCS regulations concerning gym size. Once they got there, they proved that they are the class of the division, with or without home court advantage. 

Sparked by a 10-point first quarter run, the Panthers were in control for nearly the entire game. Although leading scorer DeShawn Freeman was plauged with foul trouble and only played 10 minutes, his backcourt partner, John Sharper, picked up the slack, scoring 23 points in the first half on his way to a game-high 29 with five steals. Sharper hit seven three-pointers, including five in the first half, and was 9-of-15 from the field. The junior said he was surprised how much room he was given on offense. 

“They scouted us for a while, so I figured they would be on me,” he said. “But they left me open for threes, so I was pretty happy.” 

St. Mary’s forward Chase Moore pitched in with 17 points and five rebounds. With Freeman a non-factor for most of the game, head coach Jose Caraballo was forced to depend on his bench for some scoring. Guard Terrence Boyd scored all seven of his points in the second half, and guard Matt Straus scored six points. 

The Braves, on the other hand, got most of their production from their bench. With leading scorer Garrett Halverson out due to suspension, the only reliable scorer left was guard Jerrad Bullock, who scored 22 points. Forwards Ryan Harrison and Brent Brockmeyer came off the bench to score 18 and 11, respectively, but no other Justin-Siena player scored more than five points. 

Sharper keyed the Panthers’ early run, hitting two three-pointers to put his team up 18-6. St. Mary’s extended the lead to 26-8 in the second quarter, but Freeman drew his third foul with 4:10 left in the half and sat down. The Panthers were called for several touch fouls, and Justin-Siena was in the bonus quickly, heading to the line 15 times in the quarter. The Braves made 12 from the charity stripe, keeping them in the game in the face of the tenacious Panther defense. 

“We’ve been in foul trouble before, but it was a little bit ridiculous,” Caraballo said. 

St. Mary’s was on the verge of pulling away again in the third quarter, but Freeman was called for his fourth foul and sat for most of the period. Upon his return in the fourth quarter, he drove the lane and was called for a charge, ending his night with just four points. 

But as Freeman left, Boyd entered and hit a three-pointer and a jumper to put the Panthers up 67-49, ending any hopes of a comeback for Justin-Siena. 

“We’re very pleased. Our starters didn’t play that much, and our bench got in a lot. We’re rested, which is what we wanted,” Caraballo said. 

The Panthers will play No. 5 Marin Catholic on Friday night, and the championship game will be on Saturday. So the Panthers will have to win three games in three days to move on to the next level, the Northern California playoffs. Caraballo feels that his team, which is the highest ranked of any Division IV team in the state, can go even farther than that. 

“I feel we can win it all, period,” he said. “If we lose, everyone will be upset and talk about me.”