It wasn’t like the Santa Fe Christian boys basketball team was an unknown when it visited the Claver Center Tuesday night to face host Cathedral Catholic. SFC was listed 10th in the Union-Tribune’s latest all-division rankings, two slots below Cathedral. The fact that the visiting Eagles defeated the home squad, 69-52, wasn’t a complete surprise, but the manner and ease with which they did it certainly was.
Santa Fe Christian, the smaller of the two teams and missing key contributor Trevan Martin, played confidently and aggressively on both ends of the floor—using quick hands, tipped passes and cut off passing lanes to pile up double digit steals on defense while hitting six threes and effectively driving and dishing to collect layups when they had the ball. Head Coach Chad Bickley described his team’s style as “organized chaos” and its frenetic pace and attacking approach at times seemed to leave the Dons confused.
“It can be a frustrating thing to go against,” said Bickley, whose team is now 5-1 with four consecutive victories. “It starts defensively where we’re averaging 14 steals, not turnovers, per game. Those lead to baskets.
“As we’re starting to understand our personality, what I’ve found is that these guys are just naturally doing a lot of things, particularly defensively, where they’re looking out for each other. They’re unselfish kids.”
After trailing in the early going, a frenzied run that stretched from late in first quarter until midway through the second, allowed Santa Fe Christian to bust things open. Cathedral made a surge just before intermission to cut the margin to 10 but the Eagles kept them at bay in the third and pulled away again in the final period to hand the Dons their third loss in a row after a 5-0 start.
Junior Chase Pagon led SFC with 17 points and Sam Dudley added 16. Junior reserves Alexander Yphantides (12) and Saagar Dhanjani (10) also hit double figures. Junior Scott Prunty and sophomore Alex Wade, CC’s co-captains, netted 15 and 13 respectively but the Dons’ leading scorer, Thomas Notarainni (5 pts.), and 6-7 Obinna Anyanwu (9 pts.) were kept in check.
“I thought defensively, Sam (Dudley) did an awesome job on No. 34 (Notarainni),” said Bickley. “We didn’t want to let him get going.
“We had a lot of active bodies out there tonight. When you’ve got a team that’s bought in, they do a lot of things that when put together result in victories. We’ve got some things to shore up, but this was a good one tonight.”
Santa Fe Christian will try to extend its win streak to five Thursday night at Rancho Bernardo. On the same night, Cathedral Catholic will be looking to turn things around in Northern California, playing the first of three games in the Sacramento Father Berry Tournament against NorCal power Archbishop Mitty.