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Shamrocks run past Aussies
The Yuma Catholic boys basketball team needed a little while to wake up on Saturday afternoon.
The Shamrocks and the King's School both looked sloppy in an early game, but Yuma Catholic distanced themselves in the second half and won 49-34 in the loser bracket championship of the Southwest Rotary Classic on Saturday at Cibola.
Sophomore post Matt Pistone finished with a team-high 15 points and nine rebounds and junior wing Peter Hurtado added 11. Pistone ended up winning the matchup against the big man for the King's School — freshman post Will Pearce, who finished with seven points and eight rebounds.
“I thought it was going to be a good matchup and it was,” Yuma Catholic coach Brooks Neumann said. “Matt's real physical and so is their big guy, and I thought Matt dominated.”
Freshman guard Jayden Prakash finished with a game-high 17 points for the King's School, which is from Sydney, Australia. The Aussies' coach Delmas Green felt that the combination of playing a game at 12:30 p.m. and the trip his team is on — which started in Los Angeles and is heading up to Phoenix before San Diego — caught up with his young team.
“What happened more than anything is, I think fatigue has set in,” Green said. “We had no legs, and it showed. It's been six long days for us.”
Both teams seemed sluggish in the first half, which ended with the Shamrocks up 20-15.
“We were 2 for 13 from three in the first half, and that's really not us,” Neumann said.
The Shamrocks (9-1) got some breathing room with a 11-2 run early in the third quarter capped by a running layup by sophomore point guard Carter Rodriguez, who finished with nine points and five assists.
“Today we were trying to push the ball, and anytime you push the ball you're going to find an open guy,” said sophomore guard Jagan Cleary, who had eight points to go with eight assists.
Leading by double-digits with 3:30 left in the game, the Shamrocks went into a expanded delay motion offense to drain the clock — which drew some heckling from the crowd.
“I wanted to get my back end of my bench a run, get them in the game,” Green said. “And them to contain the ball for three minutes, that was a bit, ‘C'mon let's play. You're going to win the game.'”
Neumann felt that the ability to hold on to the ball for long periods of time could come up in key games later in the season and was using the tournament to get the players accustomed to it.
“This is a tournament to work on things, and I wanted to work on that,” Neumann said.
Neumann is happy his team could escape an early game against a fundamentally-sound Australian team with a win.
“It's a 12:30 game on a Saturday. We don't want to be here. They don't want to be here. Nobody wants to be here,” he said. “But somebody has to win those games, and I think our kids gutted it out.”
Jesse Severson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 539-6881. Find him on Facebook at facebook.com/YSJesseSeverson.