The Riordan Crusaders are without five players, including the brother of Golden State Warriors forward Jonathan Kuminga, for Saturday night’s Northern California semifinal game at Granada after fallout from a brawl on Thursday night.
As part of the discipline handed out by the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), Riordan lost its privileges to host any remaining state tournament games, players that were involved in the fight and players that left the bench to join the fracas were suspended.
The group of suspended players includes three starters, as well as 6-foot-8 freshman forward Alex Kuminga, the brother of Warriors forward Jonathan Kuminga.
Kuminga, who didn’t join the team until January after a holdup in his visa process, played sparingly for the Crusaders during West Catholic Athletic League (WCAL) play, but his size may have been useful on Saturday night against Granada’s seven-foot center, Saint Mary’s commit Andrew McKeever.
While Kuminga was presumably suspended for leaving the bench, the four other suspended players were on the court at the time of the brawl and were involved in the physical altercation. No Riordan players threw any punches, but they were nonetheless punished for their involvement.
That group includes three starters: Sophomore forward Jasir Rencher, junior forward Nathan Tshamala and senior guard Achilles Woodson.
Woodson, whose push of an Inderkum player started the fight, likely would have missed the game anyway in concussion protocol, as he was knocked out after Inderkum’s Jeremiah Butler punched him in the back of the head. He scored a game-high 24 points before the fight, which stopped the game with 1:15 remaining.
Rencher is a 6-foot-6 wing whose collegiate offers include Mississippi State, San Francisco, Texas A&M and Washington State. He and Woodson were each named to the WCAL’s All-League First Team on Monday.
Tshamala is Jonathan and Alex Kuminga’s cousin. Like his cousins, he was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The 6-foot-6 forward made a splash in his third game when he sank six 3-pointers in a four-minute stretch.
The other suspended player who was on the court at the time of the altercation is Zachary Jones, who comes off the bench but often plays starter-level minutes. He’s committed to UC Davis to play football, and is considered one of Riordan’s top defenders.
A sixth player, backup wing Tyrone Jackson, is also unavailable for Saturday night's game, though he wasn't involved in the brouhaha. He's competing in a 7-on-7 football tournament today. Jackson has offers to play wide receiver at Oregon State, San Diego State and UNLV.
Center Christian Wise, who had a double-double in Tuesday’s first round win over Campolindo, is the lone player who was on the court at the time of the fight that avoided suspension. In video taken from the NFHS Network broadcast, Wise can be seen carrying a small child off the court.
The aforementioned suspensions leave the Crusaders with just seven regular players for Saturday night’s game. Wise and Cameroonian freshman Andrew Hilman are the team’s only regular starters in uniform.
In order to beat a Matadors team led by McKeever and 6-foot-7 shooter Tyler Harris, Riordan will need to rely on contributors like Kaia Berridge, a 6-foot-3 guard from New Zealand who played for New Zealand’s national team at the 2022 FIBA U-17 World Cup.
The other regular players in uniform are freshman Jasen Davis and three juniors: Zeke Natorilla, Kalolo Ta’aga and JahKeenan Williams-Choa. Of that group, only Natorilla saw occasional minutes during WCAL play, typically in a defensive role. Ta'aga, who stands at 6-foot-9, may come in handy as an extra body against McKeever.
Riordan also called up sophomore Jeremiah Jones from the junior varsity team as an eighth player.