Dons’ defense steals game from Buccaneers in second quarter
CARMEL VALLEY – In a battle of Western League unbeatens on Tuesday night, Cathedral Catholic cruised past Mission Bay. The third-ranked Dons played stifling defense in the second quarter and shot well from outside to roll to a 64-56 victory over the visiting Buccaneers.
“This is a big win for us. These guys have been good this season, and for us to come out like this is great,” said Cathedral Catholic junior guard Niksha Federico.
Cathedral Catholic (17-1, 3-0 Western) trailed 15-14 after the first quarter and took control of the game with a 15-0 run to start the second quarter. The Dons used a 2-2-1 press to force Mission Bay turnovers that led to easy baskets – including steals on four straight possessions.
“Coach told us to put a lot of pressure up and we just kept on bringing it,” Federico said. “Brandon Michel had a lot of steals and it was a great team effort.”
Mission Bay (8-4, 2-1) didn’t score for the first four minutes of the second quarter, and by halftime Cathedral Catholic had a 33-21 lead. The Buccaneers went on a 7-0 run to close the gap to 11 late in the third quarter, but a Federico three-pointer at the buzzer gave Cathedral Catholic a 14-point lead headed into the fourth.
“Every single practice I stay after and shoot and coach wants me to shoot whenever I want. Today I was on a roll and I felt it,” Federico said.
Cathedral Catholic opened up a commanding 22-point lead midway through the fourth quarter when Federico hit threes on consecutive possessions. Mission Bay made a late run, but it wasn’t enough to threaten the Dons’ eventual eight-point victory.
“We came out strong and my threes were going in,” Federico said. “It’s a good win.”
Off the bench, Federico scored a game-high 21 points and hit five of Cathedral Catholic’s seven three-pointers. Junior forward Xavier Williams added 19 points, including 12 in the second half to keep the Dons in front.
“It’s great because no one on our team is selfish at all – each person keeps passing it around and it ends up leading to an open shot,” Federico said. “We shoot for at least 30 minutes of every practice, which helps us out.”
Though 10 of the 12 players on Cathedral Catholic’s roster are juniors this season, the Dons have matured into one of the best teams in the section. Cathedral Catholic hasn’t lost to a San Diego team this season and is currently tied with Lincoln atop the Western League.
“We have a strong team spirit. We’re all very close, we’re all good friends, and every practice we work each other really hard and keep going at it,” Federico said. “We have high expectations and hopefully we can continue this throughout the season.”
Senior guard Jerald Albritton scored 20 points to lead Mission Bay, including 14 in the second half. Three players finished in double figures for the Buccaneers, who suffered their second straight loss.
Cathedral Catholic – 64 (14-19-14-17)
Williams 19, Rosenburg 8, Reh 6, Prunty 4, Michel 2 (starters) Federico 21, Holland 4
Mission Bay – 56 (15-6-12-23)
Albritton 20, V. Petties-Wilson 12, Holler 7, Mebratu 2, Gatdoar 0 (starters) Cloud 15
Pictured: Cathedral Catholic junior forward Xavier Williams goes up for a shot between Mission Bay guards T.J. Gatdoar (left) and Dylan Holler (right)