The San Luis Obispo High boys basketball team used an 11-0 run to open the third quarter to race past Bishop Diego Thursday night, defeating the Cardinals 55-25 in the 2019 Santa Barbara Holiday Shootout at JR Richards Gym.
The Tigers (9-3) held a five-point lead after the first and opened up a 28-12 lead over Bishop at the half. San Luis Obispo was able to control the paint from start to finish, as their front court players scored 42 of the team’s 55 points.
“We are a big, physical team so we really went after our strengths tonight, which was getting the ball inside,” said Tigers coach Trey Francke. “We kept it simple. Reduced the turnovers and fed the guys down low.”
Senior Carson Leedom scored a game-high 15 points, while teammate Thomas Cole dropped 14 points in the win. Barry-John Baxter and Christian Jones each added six points, most of which came around the basket or on second-chance opportunities.
The Tigers pulled ahead 41-17 after the third and led by as many as 33 points.
“For me, the biggest thing was that we didn’t compete,” said Bishop coach James Coronado, whose team was without two of its top players in Kai Morphy and Matthew Cunningham. “We all got here and the buzz was that Kai has the flu and he’s in bed.
“I know we’re young and we were definitely undermanned this game, but I just want that fight. That’s where I felt like we kind of rolled over a little bit sooner than we had to,” Coronado said. “With the guys we had today we probably wouldn’t have won the game, but I just wanted to see that fight each and every time. Especially from our older guys, and by older guys I’m saying sophomores, but it is what it is.”
The Cardinals (8-7) typically try and front the post in an effort to draw teams out of the paint. The Tigers were able to hold their own down low, and even when shots would miss San Luis Obispo was able to wrangle the offensive rebounds and make Bishop pay.
“I don’t think they hurt us on the first entry, I think they hurt us on the boards,” Coronado said. “We tried to live with the post up and stop the first shot and that killed us.”
While the Cardinals had their hands full on defense, the team also struggled mightily on the offensive end. They tried multiple tactics to solve the Tigers 2-3 zone, but even when they got good looks on offense they were unable to convert.
“I felt like we were over there trying to make like seven-point shots,” Coronado said. “That puts a little pressure on you because you’re trying to make every shot. I thought we had a lot of good looks, they just didn’t fall today.
“We were kind of contemplating on playing in this tournament because we knew we were a little young and last year we got kind of beat up,” Coronado said. “But I think that we’re heading in the right direction, so I wanted these games just to challenge our guys.”
Luis Fernandez had a team-high eight points, while fellow freshmen Bryan Trejo added four points.
In earlier action on Thursday, Crean Lutheran defeated Cleveland High School 66-40.
The Saints will take on San Luis Obispo today at 1 p.m. before Santa Barbara takes on Cleveland at 3:30. Crean Lutheran will square off with the Cardinals at 5:30 p.m. before the Dons take on the Tigers at 7 p.m.