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St. Mary’s blasts Highlanders

By Jared Green Daily Planet Staff
Saturday January 12, 2002

Six St. Mary’s players scored in double figures as the Panthers romped to a 94-42 win over Piedmont on Friday night. 

Forward Chase Moore led the way with 18 points and 12 rebounds for St. Mary’s, while guard John Sharper pitched in with 16 points and 5 steals. Guards Terrence Boyd and Tim Fanning each scored 11, while center Simon Knight had 10 points. 

The big surprise on Friday was freshman Larry Gurganious. The 6-foot-3 forward scored 15 points and pulled down 8 rebounds against the Highlanders, showing his incredible athleticism with a tomahawk dunk late in the second quarter, followed by a powerful shot block on the other end. 

“The kid looked pretty good tonight, didn’t he?” St. Mary’s head coach Jose Caraballo marveled. “I’ve been expecting some big things from Larry.” 

The scary thing about the dominating win was that the Panthers have yet to get DeShawn Freeman’s best game. The senior point guard is slowly returning from a stress fracture in his foot and played about 10 minutes off the bench on Friday night. Freeman, who will play at Sacramento State next fall, showed good quickness and ball-handling against the Highlanders, but Caraballo is bringing him along slowly to prevent a relapse. 

Even without Freeman at his best, the Panthers were clearly the better team on Friday. After Piedmont’s Eric Flato scored the first basket of the game, St. Mary’s went on a quick 10-0 run, keyed by 5 points from Gurganious. When Piedmont finally scored again, the Panthers answered with a seven-point run. In fact, the Highlanders didn’t score consecutive baskets until the second quarter, when the score was 30-6 and the outcome was already fairly clear. 

The second quarter highlighted just how superior St. Mary’s was. Caraballo sat several of his starters, but his reserves did just as well, as forward Spartacus Rodriguez came off the bench to record 6 points and 7 rebounds in the quarter. 

The Panthers led 53-1 at halftime, and it wouldn’t have been surprising if Caraballo had called off the dogs and sat back rather than press, but the Panthers kept up their full-court pressure for the entire game. Caraballo treated the game as a rare chance to practice for his team, which hasn’t had a full 5-on-5 practice for three months due to injuries and illness. 

“I’m sorry we did that, but we needed the practice,” Caraballo said. “But we have to play hard, or we’ll get bad habits. We don’t want complacency on the floor.” 

Piedmont coach Chis Lavdiotis did his best to put on a happy face, but it was clear he wasn’t happy with Caraballo. 

“We expected it. That’s nothing new from Caraballo,” Lavdiotis said. “It’ll be payback time some day.” 

While Lavdiotis couldn’t be happy with the result, he was clearly proud that his team never stopped playing hard. 

“We may have looked overmatched out there, but I’ll tell you one place we weren’t overmatched: heart,” he said. “We’re quick, but just not as quick as them. They’re a Division I team, and we know we’re going to the Division IV North Coast playoffs.” 

St. Mary’s is playing up into Division I this season after winning the Division IV state championship. 

With Freeman missing most of the season so far, Boyd and Fanning have stepped up their games, giving the Panthers more scoring options than last season. Combine them with the development of Gurganious, and Caraballo expects an even better squad than last year’s state championship team. 

“Once DeShawn gets into it, we’re going to take it to another level,” he said. 

NOTES: Saturday’s game against Skyline was cancelled late on Friday. The game, which was scheduled just this week, was supposed to tip off at 7 p.m., but the Skyline athletic director called St. Mary’s to cancel.