Jay Allen Sanford 9:45 p.m., May 19
Dons use big second quarter to blow past Saints in 20-point win
CARMEL VALLEY – For the first time in four seasons, Cathedral Catholic has definitive bragging rights over rival St. Augustine on the hardwood. The third-ranked Dons completed the sweep on Friday night with a decisive 69-49 victory over the fifth-ranked Saints before a capacity crowd at the Claver Center.
“It’s always good to beat Saints, especially in a packed house in front of your home crowd,” said Cathedral Catholic junior forward Nick Prunty. “It’s just a great feeling to come out here, execute, and get the win.”
After an emotion-filled, back and forth start, Cathedral Catholic (21-1, 7-0 Western) used pressure defense to take over the game. Midway through the second quarter, the Dons broke open a tied game with an 11-0 run sparked by five straight points from junior guard Michael Rosenburg.
“We forced them into some turnovers – our guards got some steals and we just turned those into easy buckets,” Prunty said.
Cathedral Catholic led 36-24 at halftime and had a 14-point advantage headed into the fourth quarter. The Dons held St. Augustine (17-5, 3-4) to eight points in both the second and third quarters.
“We tried to keep up our pressure the whole game and keep our zone working,” Prunty said. “It was mostly the zone that kept them in check.”
Cathedral Catholic opened up a 57-36 lead midway through the fourth quarter before St. Augustine rallied to pull within 10 points with 2:50 left. Instead of a close finish, the Dons answered with the final 12 points to beat their rival in comfortable fashion.
“It was a good lead there in the fourth quarter,” Prunty said. “They hit some threes to get back in it, but we just kept battling, hit some free throws, and came out with the win.”
Prunty led Cathedral Catholic with a game-high 18 points – including four three-pointers – and was one of three Dons in double figures. Cathedral Catholic is enjoying one of its finest seasons in program history and hasn’t showed signs of slowing down in the difficult Western League.
“A lot of people doubted us coming into the season and didn’t know how good we would be,” Prunty said. “We always believed and we knew we had a good team.”
Though forward Brendan Reh is the lone senior on a roster that features 10 juniors, Cathedral Catholic has blossomed into one of the best teams in San Diego in the 2011-12 season. Early on, the Dons’ success even caught head coach Will Cunningham by surprise.
“It’s certainly unexpected,” Cunningham said. “We knew we had a group that was capable of some things but I don’t know that I saw this kind of start.
“We have one senior that has provided good leadership and then a slew of juniors – and they all get along really well. We have good camaraderie and it doesn’t matter who does it.”
For St. Augustine, sophomore guard Trey Kell led the way with 13 points as the Saints were held to their second-lowest total of the season. The atmosphere for the religious rivalry’s second act was electric even before the teams took the court.
“People were talking about it at school and you know there’s going to be a big crowd, but you don’t actually know how big that crowd is and how much energy there is until you walk out on that floor,” Prunty said. “Running out for warm-ups you get the blood pumping and the juices flowing and it’s just exhilarating. “
Cathedral Catholic – 69 (17-19-10-23)
Prunty 18, Williams 10, Rosenburg 9, Michel 7, Reh 5 (starters) Federico 13, Holland 7
St. Augustine – 49 (16-8-8-17)
Kell 13, Peterson 10, Moreno 10, Lemar 7, Madsen 2 (starters) Jones 5, Ryan 2
Pictured: Cathedral Catholic guard Brandon Michel puts up a shot between St. Augustine forward Juan Moreno (left) and guard Trey Kell (right)