Seniors lead boys to easy victory
For the last two seasons, the St. Mary’s High boys’ basketball team has depended on a trio of current seniors. Thursday night against St. Joseph in the BSAL playoffs, DaShawn Freeman, John Sharper and Chase Moore keyed yet another victory to put the Panthers in the league championship game.
Sharper and Moore each scored 20 points and Freeman dished out 12 assists in the 69-61 St. Mary’s win on Senior Night. Fellow senior Terrence Boyd also scored 12 points. The Panthers (24-2 overall) will face archrival Salesian on Saturday for the BSAL title and an automatic bid to the North Coast Section playoffs.
Sharper scored 10 of his points in the second quarter as the Panthers started to pull away. A 16-9 first-quarter lead ballooned to 27-12 as the St. Mary’s defense caused turnover after turnover. Freeman ended the half with a penetration kick-out to Sharper, who calmly drained his second 3-pointer of the quarter for a 37-21 halftime lead.
“The second quarter was big for us,” St. Mary’s head coach Jose Caraballo said. “Our pressure really got to them, and we got our transition game going.”
The Pilots (21-7) wouldn’t go quietly, however. Senior Ari Warmerdam turned it on in the second half, scoring 22 of his game-high 27 points after the break. The 6-foot-5 forward poured in 14 points in the third quarter alone to drag his team back to within 53-43, but the Pilots would get no closer until a 3-pointer from Murphy Holmes at the final buzzer.
Warmerdam appeared to be the only Pilot who came ready to play, at least on the offensive end. The second-leading scorer for St. Joseph was Jeff Fuller with 7 points, and while 13 different Pilots scored, no other player had more than 4 points.
With the playoffs shaking out exactly to form, the Panthers will get another shot at Salesian on Saturday. It will be the second meeting this season, and there’s more on the line than a league title. The Panthers are shooting for two straight undefeated BSAL seasons, not to mention a top seed in the NCS Division I playoffs. Salesian, on the other hand, will be playing more for pride. They have lost to St. Mary’s four times in a row over the last two seasons, and this will be the Chieftans’ last shot at a win over the St. Mary’s seniors.
“They’re our biggest rival, and they’re going to come out and try to get revenge on us,” Sharper said. “We can’t let that happen.”
Freeman said his fellow seniors won’t take the Chieftans lightly.
“Especially us seniors, we want to win this last one,” he said. “It’s a big rivalry, and I want to win it for the school as well as for the team.”
Saturday’s championship game is scheduled to tip off at 8 p.m. at Albany High’s gym.
Caraballo said the game plan won’t change much from the teams’ meeting two weeks ago, a 70-57 Panther win.
“We’re going to play our game and make them adjust to us,” he said. “They’re the ones that lost.”