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It wasn’t the most beautifulest of finishes from the home team, but the Salesian boys basketball team will take it anyways. In what was a back and forth final quarter between Salesian (3-2) and Bishop O’Dowd (1-2), the Pride ended up barely defeating the Dragons with a score of 69-67.
Last year, when these two teams met up in the North Coast Section playoffs, it was the Dragons coming up on top with a comfortable 79-66 win. But now with players such as Jeremiah Jones and Dante Sawyer becoming more vocal leaders as well as the addition of a new phenomenal freshman in the starting lineup, the Pride finally got their revenge.
Throughout the first half of the match, Salesian was applying non-stop pressure to O’ Dowd. While always maintaining a comfortable lead, the home team could not be stopped, as it finished the game with eight three-pointers. Head coach Bill Mellis only used four of his substitutions, but that did not seem to be an issue as the Pride stayed energetic the entire night. On the other side of the bench, O’Dowd head coach Lou Richie rotated his entire team while using eight of his substitutions, but the Dragons could not seem to close the deficit as the game got closer to an end.
Entering the fourth quarter, things started to spice up a bit. With the game at 58-46, O’Dowd started to play with heavy pressure, as it forced under 10 turnovers in the fourth, which quickly made the score 60-60. Just like that, at 4:58 the game was on. After four missed free throws in a row from Salesian, O’Dowd’s Matt Desler would then go on to steal the ball and pass to Marsalis Roberson for an easy layup, thus achieving O’Dowd’s first lead of the night.
With just under 20 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the O’Dowd found itself in-bounding the ball while being down just two points. Knowing that this was one of the most important plays, the team decided to give it to five-star sophomore Jalen Lewis, who topped 25 points. Arguably the best player that night, Lewis catccaughthes a pass from Roberson near the free throw line and turned for the jumper to tie the game with seven seconds remaining. Immediately after, Jeremiah Jones received the ball from an in-bound and ran it all the way down for a difficult layup, which saw Salesian win its third game in a row.
In what could have been an amazing comeback by Bishop O’Dowd, the night saw Salesian barely holding on to the lead.
“We just stayed playing aggressive,” Jones said. “I told my team to not take the foot off the gas, and I think we did that very well today which got us the win.”
With Bishop O’Dowd facing even a tougher matchup next game against De La Salle (3-1), Salesian hopes to extend its winning streak with another home game win against Albany (0-1). Players such as Amani Johnson, who scored 15 of the night, believes that this team has what it takes to continue the streak.
“I’m feeling good about this next game,” Johnson said. “We do have some things to work on, but overall I’m excited for the next game. Our team has been working very hard this offseason.”
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