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December 23, 2012

Pride still 'Top Dog'

The theme of blowouts continued into the second half of the Catholic Schools Winter Classic, including the highly anticipated matchup between Salesian and Mitty.

Cal, Cal Poly SLO, Cal State East Bay, Humboldt State, Meritt College, Montana, Notre Dame de Namur, Pacific, San Francisco State, San Jose State, Solano Community College, and Sonoma State were some schools in attendance on Saturday.

The highly anticipated meeting between the top two teams in Northern California ended in a one-sided. Mitty started the game on a 9-2 run, but Salesian answered with a 12-0 run to end the first quarter. The Pride took a 31-23 advantage into the half and opened the second half on a 22-2 run to put the game out of reach at 72-51.

"Obviously the start of the second half we went on a run and everyone's going to say how we scored some buckets, but I thought it was that we were getting defensive stops," said Salesian head coach Bill Mellis. "That was the biggest part, what we did at the defensive end more so than the offensive end."

The marquee matchup between five star seniors Aaron Gordon and Jabari Bird was actually overshadowed by the play of Montana signee Mario Dunn in the first quarter. Dunn had six of his 15 points in the opening quarter and displayed his ability as an overall scorer.

"Tonight he played really well," Mellis added about Dunn's play. "He's one of our main guys of course and he's very important to this team. He's no stranger to the big stage-he seems to really show up in big games-and tonight he did that."

The Gordon-Bird matchup was a back and forth battle throughout. The Oakland Soldier teammates seemed to one-up each other on each possession, but Bird got the last laugh with a victory. Gordon finished with 18 points and nine rebounds, while Bird had 19 points and 10 boards.

When asked about Bird's play on Saturday, Mellis answered, "He was Jabari. He played how we expected him to play. He had a great game."

Seniors Jermaine Edmonds and Sean O'Neal added 13 and 10 points respectively for the Pride.

Salesian made a statement with an easy victory over the two-time state champions and proved why they're the top team in Northern California.

St. Patrick/St. Vincent 73, Sacred Heart Prep 54

Each team traded baskets in the opening minutes of the game, but St. Patrick/St. Vincent closed the first quarter on a 13-0 run and never looked back. The Bruins took a 41-21 lead into the locker room and handled Sacred Heart Prep by a sizable margin.

Junior post Jalen Canty led the way for St. Pat's with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and six blocks. The second-ranked 2014 prospect was an athletic yet bulky big man who controlled the paint on both ends of the court. He could run the floor in transition and finish with a dunk, but also showed an improvement with his back to the basket. Canty showed finesse with some hook shots and low post moves.

Another key to the Bruin victory was senior Jason Webster. The senior is known as an ultra-athletic guard, but showed that he could knock down shots from the outside as well. He was most effective slashing to the basket with a quick burst and was a good finisher around the rim en route to a 19 point performance. The biggest question going forward with Webster is his size at 6-feet to go with his scoring skill set, but he should still find a spot at a collegiate program. He has mainly been in contact with Biola University and Westmont College.

Sacred Heart Prep was led by the stellar shooting of Ricky Galliani. The senior shooting guard finished with 22 points including four threes. He has enough size at 6-foot-4, but could work on impacting the game in other areas.

Junipero Serra 63, St. Joseph Notre Dame 46

Serra led 15-7 after the first quarter and opened the second quarter on a 9-2 run. The Padres remained in control throughout behind solid defense and a shared scoring effort. After a 41-21 lead at the half, Serra cruised to an easy victory.

Princeton-bound forward Henry Caruso finished with 16 points and six rebounds for the Padres. He was a high-energy player and was active around the rim, but could also step out to nail a mid-range jumper.

Serra also had good play in the backcourt from seniors Andre Miller and Jacqui Biggins. Miller was a smart, pass-first point guard who finished with seven assists. He also grabbed six rebounds and scored six points. His numbers may not jump off the page, but he's the type of player you win games with due to his heady play and tough defense.

Biggins was a good scorer for the Padres, but was somewhat streaky. He could score from behind the arc or knock down a mid range jumper. Biggins finished with a game-high 21 points along with six rebounds.
Freshman Eddie Stansberry should be another name to remember and had a solid showing with nine points off the bench.

For St. Joe's, Temidayo Yussef led the way with 15 points, five rebounds, and three blocks. The 6-foot-7 junior spent most of his time in the paint, but his jumper extended all the way out to the three point line. At this point, Yussef could be a face-up big man at the next level, but with some added quickness he could thrive at the wing.

Senior guard Justin Brown also had a strong game for the Pilots. He was an active player who was always around the ball. Brown finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists.

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