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Mitty ends Bellarmine's league win streak - Jan 31, 2018


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It was already shaping up to be a special basketball season at Archbishop Mitty, given that its powerhouse girls team is filled with elite-level talent, undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the nation. Now the school might have a heck of a comeback story with its boys team. The Monarchs don't have a winning record and still need two wins to qualify for the playoffs. But the outlook is better than it was three weeks ago. Make that a whole lot better. The reigning Central Coast Section Open Division champion ended Bellarmine's ridiculously impressive 24-game winning streak in West Catholic Athletic League play Tuesday night with a 67-56 victory. The win before a lively home crowd improved Mitty's record to 7-12 overall and 5-4 in the WCAL, not great but far better than the 2-12, 0-4 marks the Monarchs had just a short time ago. The hole had become so deep that winning a game - not the playoffs - was all that was on coach Tim Kennedy's radar. 'I didn't want to go any deeper,' Kennedy said after the game Tuesday. 'It felt like we were at rock bottom.' Mitty, which has to finish with a .500 league record to become playoff eligible, clearly just needed one win to ignite its season. The Monarchs beat Archbishop Riordan 66-60 on Jan. 16, then outlasted Serra on the road in double overtime in their next game. Wins over Valley Christian and on the road Friday over St. Ignatius followed. 'We got that first win, and they had a belief,' Kennedy said after his team stretched its winning streak to five games. 'They realized that, 'Hey, we can keep building on it.' The biggest thing has been their composure. Even like winning at Serra in overtime and winning the other night at St. Ignatius when we had an eight-point lead and they came back. We came down the next play and we're composed, whereas before if something went wrong you could see the body language.' In its win Tuesday, Mitty had everything working. The Monarchs stretched a five-point lead after one quarter to 17 at halftime and 22 through three quarters. They looked much more in rhythm than they did in a 60-49 loss at Bellarmine on Jan. 9. 'It was Mitty's night,' Bellarmine coach Patrick Schneider said. 'They played great defensively. They were very physical defensively. They set the pace with their aggression on defense and attack on offense. It took us a while to respond to the speed that we had to play with.' Four Mitty players scored in double figures, with big man Riley Grigsby (19 points) leading the way. The Monarchs also got 12 points from Joseph Vaughn and 11 apiece from Devan Sapp and Charles Meng. 'We have confidence now,' Grigsby said. 'We're playing good. We have to keep it going.' Vaughn said he never lost hope that the season would turn around. 'If you look back we always stayed confident and we always knew that it was just a few things that had to change in a matter of time before we would break out,' said Vaughn, who had Mitty rolling early Tuesday with six first-quarter points. 'I think we're getting to that point.' Asked what has changed the most, Vaughn added, 'I think it's mindset. We're playing faster. We're playing better. It's just little tiny things that all kind of clicked.' Mitty visits St. Francis on Friday, then plays Riordan, Serra, Valley Christian and Sacred Heart Cathedral to close out the regular season. If the Monarchs win two more games, they're not only in the playoffs but probably will get a chance to defend their Open Division crown. 'Not even thinking about that,' Kennedy said. 'To be honest, we haven't even scouted or done anything because it was like we had to get into the bunker and focus on one game. Every game is a playoff game for us. We're in playoff mode fighting for our lives.' Mitty was only one game over .500 last season when it got hot down the stretch, stunned then one-loss Bellarmine in the CCS Open final and reached the semifinals of the NorCal Open playoffs. This comeback story, if it happens, would be even more stunning. In the fourth quarter Tuesday, Bellarmine showed why it won 24 consecutive WCAL games. Staring at a 23-point deficit with 5:52 left, the Bells scored 15 of the next 17 points to cut the deficit to 59-49 with 2:32 to play. Kendall Stubblefield led Bellarmine with 21 points. Jake Wojcik had 11. 'They showed the heart of a champion out there tonight,' Schneider said. 'I was just so proud of how they battled. They never quit.' Kennedy, who played at Serra in the 1990s and has coached at Mitty for a decade, marveled at Bellarmine's streak. 'It's unbelievable,' he said. 'There is no other way to describe it. They have great players that can make plays at any time. You watch film of them and they find a way to get a victory each time. They're tough to guard. Stubblefield and Wojcik make them go, but they have great people around them that make big shots.' Schneider said his players will remember the achievement for years to come. 'At the banquet we'll talk just about how graced a period it was and how special that series of games was because of all the work and effort and sacrifice they put in,' he said.
Courtesy of: mercurynews.com   




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