What was supposed to be a changing of the guard turned out to be a coronation for the incumbent.
The Riordan Crusaders girls basketball team arrived at St. Ignatius on Wednesday night with better results against mutual opponents and no shortage of confidence, but the host Wildcats handed the Crusaders a thorough 62-26 beatdown.
Freshman Julia Alcantara led St. Ignatius (8-8) with 19 points, scoring 15 in the first half as the hosts jumped out to a 15-5 lead after a quarter and held a 31-15 advantage at the break.
“For us we just wanted to get a lead fast, so we wanted to come out as strong as possible,” said Alcantara, whose 3-pointer capped off a 10-0 run in the first quarter. “My mindset was just to score as much as I can as fast as I can.”
Considering Riordan (7-8) owned an 11-point win over Valley Christian, who beat the Wildcats in overtime last week, it would have been understandable for observers to predict the Crusaders would beat SI for the first time in program history. The Crusaders were placed ahead of the Wildcats in The Standard's latest girls basketball rankings.
Riordan’s girls programs have yet to join their male counterparts in the West Catholic Athletic League (WCAL), as most of the other girls teams haven’t taken the massive leap forward that the basketball program has within just three years.
The teams play a freelance schedule and aren’t eligible for the Central Coast Section (CCS) Playoffs. In turn, Wednesday’s trip to McCullough Gymnasium was effectively a playoff game for the Crusaders. The Wildcats were able to not only match Riordan’s intensity out of the gate, but also replicated it for the entire night.
Makenzie Eggert posted up a defender to stretch the lead to 20 early in the third quarter, and Andrea Phillips’ layup extended the lead to 49-21. Stephanie Frias scored five of her nine points in the period.
Aaliyah Dias led Riordan with eight points, while sister Ashanti and freshman guard Chloe Yan each scored seven, but the rest of the team combined for just four points.
St. Ignatius resumes WCAL play on Saturday with a visit to St. Francis (8-7, 1-2 WCAL). The Crusaders will have some time to lick their wounds before hosting Granada (11-6) on Monday. It’ll be the Matadors’ fourth game in five nights.
Ben Rossi can be reached at [email protected]