Riordan falls short against Sacramento 

Playing the final minutes without its best player, the Riordan boys’ basketball team still managed to make Sacramento sweat in Thursday’s NorCal Division III quarterfinal.

But in the end, the third-seeded Dragons forced the Crusaders to leave the floor with red eyes for the second straight season. Sacramento (26-5) made seven of 10 free-throw attempts in the last 1 minute, 35 seconds to hold off Riordan 58-52. Last year, the Dragons also ended the Crusaders’ dream of a state title, winning 54-44 in a quarterfinal game in The City.

Thursday, things looked bleak for Riordan when West Catholic Athletic League Player of the Year Rob Jones fouled out on a questionable charge call with 4:43 remaining.

Jones was assessed a technical foul on top of his disqualification and Shaun Thomas made the two free throws to give Sacramento a 47-39 lead.

But the Crusaders eventually began chipping away behind the daring drives of Daniel Cannon (nine points, five assists) and Logan Shoffner (13 points), and cut the lead to 51-48 with 1:37 left after Cannon rebounded a missed Shoffner free throw, was fouled and made both shots.

Thomas then made four straight free throws for Sacramento, but Riordan still had a chance late, down 56-52 with the ball with 15 seconds left, but a rushed 3-pointer was off the mark and Brandon Curtis iced the game with two foul shots.

Sacramento’s 6-foot-7 Fred Ellis (who will play at Baylor next season) led all scorers with 22 points, while Thomas chipped in 18.

Jones was dominant for Riordan before fouling out. He had 18 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks despite being saddled with foul woes for much of the game.

Riordan (28-5) started off the game hot and led 8-3 early in the first quarter. But Sacramento rarely missed from the field in the first half, making 12 of 20 shots to lead 27-23 at the intermission.

Sacramento 58, Riordan 52

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