It was déjà vu on opening night of the NorCal Open Division with Modesto Christian and Mitty advancing to the semi-finals. It is the second straight year the Crusaders picked up a road win in the Bay Area with a narrow one point win at Newark Memorial.
The Modesto Christian Crusaders came into Newark to take on the Newark Memorial Cougars in the first round of the NorCal Open Division playoffs. The Crusaders played an outstanding first half as they took a 28-21 lead into the half. The Cougars would fight to get back into the game in the second half, but their efforts came up just one point short in Modesto Christian's 56-55 win to move into the semi-finals.
Modesto Christian senior guard Mason Washington played a vital role in the Crusaders' win with a game high 20 points on 7-for-15 shooting. He was aided by great play from junior forward Kevin Hamlet who scored 12 points and had seven rebounds, going 4-of-9 shooting. Washington was the main reason the Crusaders were up at halftime, because he went for 10 points in speedy fashion in the first quarter.
As for Newark Memorial, they struggled early shooting the ball, but with great guard play they were able to battle back. Senior guards Joey Frenchwood and Mike Pickney II combined for 32 points to keep the Cougars in the game until the very end. Frenchwood finished with 13 points on 5-for-10 shooting and Pickney led the Cougars with 19 points and four assists on 4-for-14 shooting.
Newark went on a 12-0 run to start the fourth quarter, grabbing a 52-49 lead over the Crusaders. Late in the fourth, the Cougars were down two, when Pickney was fouled and awarded three free-throws. He only needed to make two out of the three to tie the game, but he only made one. Modesto Christian missed a free-throw with 1.5 seconds left and a buzzer beating heave from Newark would go sailing left.
Modesto Christian improved to 24-8 on the season heading into Tuesday's semi-final against top seed Bishop O'Dowd. These two teams have already squared off once this season with O'Dowd winning 70-52. Granted, Modesto Christian will now have to face even better competition, but no matter who they play, it will be a game that comes down to the wire. Derek Lytle
Mitty stages another comeback
After falling behind by 16 points to Serra last week, Mitty fell behind by 10 in the first half on Friday against El Cerrito, according to the San Jose Mercury News. The Monarchs righted the ship again and beat El Cerrito 67-58 to earn a semi-final date with Capital Christian on Tuesday.
Senior guard Matt McAndrews was the star on Friday with 32 points. Connor Peterson added 15 points and Ben Kone had 14 points. Sayeed Pridgett led the Gauchos with 23 points.
58 points is the lowest output for El Cerrito since scoring 53 points against Salesian on January 14. It is the 21st straight game Mitty has held its opponent to 60 points or less. Douglas Benton