OAKLAND – Whether Archbishop Mitty’s 58-54 win over Bishop O’Dowd Wednesday night counted as a true rematch of their showdown last spring in the NorCal semifinals — each team’s last game before COVID-19 halted play — depends on who you ask.
On the winning side, Mitty coach Tim Reynolds said it amounted a preseason game with both teams still working out their own kinks.
And for the losing side? “It felt like a real (expletive)-whooping is what it felt like,” O’Dowd coach Lou Richie said.
When the teams met 417 days ago, O’Dowd put on a high-flying performance to advance to a NorCal final that never was. The Dragons entered this contest atop the Bay Area News Group rankings but turned the ball over 17 times. The Monarchs of Mitty, ranked third, took a lead early in the first quarter and never relinquished the advantage en route to revenge of sorts.
Senior forward Zach Granberry scored 15 of his team-leading 19 points in the first half to help Mitty open a lead as large as 11 points, but it was senior forward Nigel Burris who put the game away with 13 of the Monarchs’ 22 second-half points, including a 3-pointer with under a minute left to ice the victory.
O’Dowd sophomore Jalen Lewis, who scored a game-high 21 points, sank a jumper from the top of the key with about 90 seconds remaining to cut Mitty’s edge to a single point. But Burris immediately answered with a 3 to make it 56-52, and O’Dowd could not pull any closer.
Richie called Burris “unstoppable,” while Reynolds said the 6-foot-7 senior was able to take advantage of plays when they came to him.
“He kept it simple with his cuts and found openings and just made plays,” Reynolds said. “That’s kind of how basketball works. The highlight plays don’t happen when you go searching for them; they just happen in the natural flow of it, and he was rewarded with how hard he’s playing.”
Lewis, a 6-foot-9 sophomore with a handful of Power 5 offers, led all scorers but also contributed to O’Dowd’s empty possessions. Richie noted that the trio of Lewis, Cal-bound senior guard Marsalis Roberson and sophomore Amos Hodgson combined for 12 of the Dragons’ 17 turnovers. Roberson finished second to Lewis among the Dragons with 9 points.
“Too many turnovers, too many difficult shots, too many individualistic decisions,” Richie said. “We’ve got talent. They’ve got to learn how to play together. I mean, they’ve been training for a year on their own on how to be their own individual player. Everyone wants to show what they can do now — I get that — but we don’t have five months like we normally do. We’ve gotta do this in 44 days.”
Reynolds can empathize with early season struggles. The Monarchs beat Piedmont Hills in their opener by only a point more than their win Wednesday night over top-ranked O’Dowd.
After the Dragons cruised to a season-opening win Tuesday over San Leandro, Richie said Mitty could be out for revenge the following night.
Reynolds said it felt good to get a résumé-worthy win on a hostile court. However, neither the Monarchs nor Dragons will get a chance to put their résumés to the test, after CIF said earlier Wednesday that it would only host Southern California regionals.
“It’s nice that we get to come play them and win, of course, on their home court,” Reynolds said. “They’re a heck of a team and they’re still trying to figure themselves out. Everybody’s in the same boat right now.”