The lukewarm crowd gave little indication to the significance of Clayton Valley’s 74-66 win over the Campolindo Cougars Wednesday night.
There was no court-storming, nor was there a countdown of the final seconds, but the Ugly Eagles ended Campolindo’s 36-game Diablo Athletic League (DAL) winning streak by opening up a 24-point lead in the second quarter and holding on after the Cougars trimmed that lead down to four.
“We knew that if we took good shots, we were able to win,” said Jake King, who scored a team-high 19 points.
All five Clayton Valley starters scored in double figures to hand the Cougars their first league loss since Jan. 31, 2019, when then-freshman Aidan Mahaney missed potential game-tying free throws in the final second. Mahaney won his remaining 34 league games, and now averages 14.3 points per game as a freshman for nearby Saint Mary’s.
Since their last league loss, the Cougars had won two Northern California titles, a state championship, posted a 15-0 record in a shortened 2021 COVID season and won the 2022 North Coast Section (NCS) Open Division title.
“We just had to come in with a fire we didn’t have before,” said Ugly Eagles guard Clint Rieber.
Clayton Valley (14-2, 3-0 DAL Foothill) shot 17-of-22 (77.2%) in the first half, mainly by driving to the basket with relentless abandon against a shorthanded Cougar team that was without No. 2 scorer Shane O’Reilly, out for the second straight game with a head injury.
While O’Reilly’s 13.6 points per game were missed, his absence on defense was even more glaring.
“Shane is far and away our best defender,” head coach Steven Dyer said. “Not having him out there really hurt us.”
Campolindo (10-5, 2-1) scored just once from the field in the first quarter. After Dominick Sanguinetti opened the game with a baseline jumper, the Ugly Eagles went on a 20-3 run that spanned the rest of the quarter, with Rieber scoring six of his 13 points and Elijah Perryman closing the quarter with a 3-pointer from the top of the arc.
“I was most disappointed with how we played defensively. For whatever reason, we weren’t ready to go and, credit to them, they were,” Dyer said. “They kicked our ass in the first half.”
Another Perryman three made it 36-14 with 3:26 left in the first half, and his alley-oop to James Moore made it 38-16. The Eagles took their largest lead less than a minute later on Moore’s long jumper.
“If we have quality offensive possessions, we’re hard to guard,” head coach Frank Allocco Jr. said. “We did a great job of attacking the rim at the beginning of the game.”
To no one’s surprise, the Cougars didn’t fold, even after falling behind by 24. They scored the final five points of the half on a Ren Marchetti 3-pointer and Logan Robeson drive, then scored the first 14 of the second half to cut the lead to 42-38 on a long Robeson jumper.
“Landon Fly and Ren Marchetti both gave us really good minutes,” Dyer said, alluding to a the undersized lineup that got his team back in the game. “I thought they started to turn the tide at the end of the second quarter.”
Robeson scored a game-high 30 points. His steal and dunk cut the lead to 11 and forced a Clayton Valley timeout with 5:28 left in the third quarter, and he fed Clay Naffziger (13 points) for a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession.
“I was hoping we wouldn’t go down softly,” Dyer said. “I’m glad that we responded.”
Naffziger picked up his fourth foul in the third quarter, and Dylan Mansour (8 points) picked up his fourth three minutes into the fourth, further hampering a team that was already struggling with depth from O’Reilly’s injury.
The Ugly Eagles finally ended the run on a Rieber drive and scored the final six points of the third to take a 56-44 lead into the fourth. They led 60-46 after another Perryman basket, but led just 65-59 after Mansour’s 3-pointer with 2:42 left. Perhaps Campolindo’s best chance came in the following 20 seconds after Perryman missed the front end of a 1-and-1, but Mansour’s drive to get within four rimmed out.
Naffziger’s 3-pointer with 1:01 left made it 69-64, but Rieber’s and-1 with 40 seconds remaining put the game out of reach.
Moore finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, Perryman scored 14 and freshman Julian Plaza chipped in 10 points and seven rebounds.
Campolindo visits Las Lomas (10-7, 2-1) on Friday night, then will face Oakland Tech (7-8) at 9:30 a.m. on Monday in the opening game of the 25th De La Salle/MLK Jr. Classic. Clayton Valley hosts Acalanes (10-5, 2-0) on Friday, then faces Monte Vista (14-3) at 8:25 p.m. on Saturday in the final game of Miramonte’s second annual Martin Luther King Jr.-John Lewis Memorial.
Ethan Kassel can be reached at [email protected]