Dunk party: Riordan slams Mitty in WCAL boys basketball showdown

SAN FRANCISCO – Christian Wise was a human dunk machine Tuesday night.

The Archbishop Riordan star threw down one-handers, putbacks, alley-oops and reverses as the Crusaders overpowered Archbishop Mitty 60-50 in a matchup between the West Catholic Athletic League’s top teams.

A day after losing to Jesuit-Carmichael at De La Salle’s MLK Classic, Riordan showed no signs of fatigue in its latest clash against Mitty, the team it beat in the Central Coast Section Open Division final last season.

Each of Wise’s six dunks caused the Crusader Forum crowd to explode as the home team improved to 12-3 overall and 5-0 in the league.

“The adrenaline was going, and honestly, we practice for this,” Wise said. “I’m running up and down the court every day in practice so that I won’t get tired.”

With both teams missing starters, someone needed to step up.

For Riordan, Wise and point guard Achilles Woodson did just that.

SAN FRANCISCO – Riordan guard Achilles Woodson drives the ball. Archbishop Mitty and Archbishop Riordan played in the high school basketball game at Archbishop Riordan high school in San Francisco, Calif. on Friday, Jan. 17, 2023 (Joseph Dycus/Bay Area News Group) 

Wise, a burly 6-foot-6 power forward, hasn’t seen his on-court role change much since star King-Njhsanni Wilhite transferred to a Las Vegas prep academy two weeks ago, but his locker-room presence certainly has..

“I tried to step back and let dudes do their thing, but I saw something was missing,” Wise said. “Now I know I have to be more vocal … and echo everything the coach is saying.”

Wise’s 17 points brought thunder to the court.

Woodson complemented his teammate’s powerful inside game with a barrage of outside jumpers, finishing with 21 points.

“Achilles knows the time and the place, and he was just tremendous today,” Riordan coach Joe Curtin said. “That was the best game he’s played for us, and it was in our biggest game so far.”

Mitty (12-4, 4-1) never settled into a comfort zone as Riordan’s fullcourt press made it difficult for the visitors to run their offense.

Riordan’s wings, Jasir Rencher and Kaia Berridge, combined for 20 points and made life difficult for Mitty star Derek Sangster. The Princeton-bound wing scored a hard-earned 13 points.

Mitty will look to rebound at home Friday against St. Ignatius.

“Riordan set the tone and played with more force than we did,” Mitty coach Tim Kennedy said. “They won more of the 50-50 balls and had the rebounding edge, too.”

SAN FRANCISCO – Riordan guard Andrew Hilman flies through the air. Archbishop Mitty and Archbishop Riordan played in the high school basketball game at Archbishop Riordan high school in San Francisco, Calif. on Friday, Jan. 17, 2023 (Joseph Dycus/Bay Area News Group) 

Riordan led by five after one quarter and held a 29-23 advantage at halftime. The Crusaders pulled away after the break, with a Rencher dunk and layup starting and ending the third quarter.

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Mitty cut the lead to 48-42 on an Eric Brown hook shot, but Riordan hit its next five free throws to pull away once again.

Wise’s reverse alley-oop dunk with a minute left extinguished whatever hopes Mitty had to complete a comeback.

Riordan will try to keep that level of play going in its Friday game at Bellarmine.

For Curtin, his team’s ability to play relentlessly for all 32 minutes had a simple explanation.

“It was mind over matter,” he said. “We were locked in during pregame, then warmups. We were ticked off by how we played last night.”