Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
The future of the frontcourt for the Burlingame boys’ basketball team looks bright as sophomore forward Bassel Mufarrah is the heir apparent to the graduating Nick Loew.
The future of the Burlingame backcourt? A lot more cloudy.
While Mufarrah was the highlight for the Panthers in their first-round match up in the Central Coast Section Open Division against Riordan, scoring a team high 14 points, the lowlight was watching their best player – senior point guard Frankie Ferrari – limp off the court in pain late in the third quarter.
Riordan took advantage of Ferrari’s absence and pulled away from Burlingame in the second half, recording a 61-44 victory.
“I thought physically they took us out of our offense,” said Burlingame coach Pete Harames. “When Frankie went out, we had to hope for the best.”
Riordan was in the midst of a 15-0 run that would bridge the third and fourth quarters when Ferrari rolled his ankle and was forced to the sideline with1:34 to play in the period and the Crusaders leading 48-38.
By the time Ferrari got back on the court with 4:10 left in the game, Riordan was comfortably ahead, 56-38.
“(Our offense) is based on [Ferrari],” Harames said. “When he went out, it’s not like all of the sudden we can run the offense we had last year.”
After leading 29-28 at halftime, Riordan turned up the pressure defensively over the final two periods, outscoring Burlingame 32-16, including 21-10 in the third period. A Mufarrah bucket with 3:15 to play in third closed the Burlingame gap to 41-38, but then the Riordan defense came alive, jumping the passing lanes, coming away with steals and got its fast break going.
“[Riordan] is just a step above, intensity wise,” said.
The Ugbaja brothers – Jiday and Chiefy – ate the Panthers alive in the second half. They combined to score 39 points and had 11 of the team’s 15 points during the Crusaders’ decisive run. Jiday Ugbaja finished with a game high 25 points.
It was the only time in the game the Panthers failed to match at Riordan run with one of their own. Ferrari kept Burlingame in the game in the first two quarters. The Crusaders came out on fire to start the game, knocking down four 3-pointers in the first eight minutes as they jumped out to a 10-2 lead less than halfway through the quarter.
The Crusaders eventually pushed their first-quarter lead to 17-6 before Ferrari came alive. He knocked down a floater in the lane, drained a pull-up jumper and then rained in a 3-pointer to close the Burligame deficit to 17-13 with less than a minute to play.
Riordan started the second quarter the same it opened the game. The Crusaders came out and scored seven points in two minutes to take a 24-14 lead, eventually pushing it to 27-18 with 4:25 left in the half.
Back came the Panthers, this time with Ferrari serving as a distributor as the Burlingame frontcourt of Loew and Mufarrah came alive. The two combined for 10 of the Panthers’ 14 second-quarter points as they closed the half on a 10-2 run to cut the Crusaders’ lead to just one, 29-28 at half.
Ferrari had two phenomenal assists to Mufarrah during run, the second of which was a no-look, over-the-shoulder dart to Mufarrah, who converted the easy layup.
Loew put the Panthers up 30-29 on the first bucket of the second half and about a minute later, Justin Gutang’s baseline jumper regained the lead for the Panthers, 32-30.
It would be their last lead of the game. Jiday Ugbaja sank a 3 with 6:23 left in the third quarter to put the Crusaders ahead 33-32 and they steadily pulled away the rest of the game.
While Burlingame was disappointed to lose, it wasn’t a devastating loss. If there is a silver lining, it’s the fact the Panthers’ season is not over. Unlike all the other divisions, the Open Division is a double-elimination tournament and by virtue of qualifying for the Open, they automatically qualified for the Northern California tournament as well.
“It’s not the end of the road,” Harames said.
And then, quoting long-time Bay Area radio host Don Sherwood, Harames added: “Out of the mud grows the lotus. Or something like that.”
Half Moon Bay falls in heartbreaker
It could not have ended any more shockingly for the Peninsula Athletic League South Division champions.
With the ball in hand and time winding off the clock in Half Moon Bay’s opening round game against Sacred Heart Cathedral during the opening round of the CCS Open Division playoffs, the Cougars lost the ball three-quarters away from their net only to have the Irish put up a miracle shot from a mile away and have it go in.
That shot led to SHC’s 46-43 win over the Cougars.
Serra 61, Leigh 43
Danny Mahoney scored 15 points and Cory Cravalho added 12 points to lead Serra past Leigh 61-43.