Riordan survives in overtime to advance to NorCal championship game 

MORAGA -- After giving up a four-point lead on a controversial intentional foul call in the last seven seconds in regulation and with their senior leader on the bench after fouling out, Riordan High School didn't flinch.

With the resolve that carried them since an 0-3 start in West Catholic Athletic League play, the Crusaders survived and advanced to play another day. Riordan held off host Campolindo High School (Moraga) 72-68 in overtime in the CIF Northern California Division III semifinals. With the win, Riordan advances to Saturday's NorCal championship against Sir Francis Drake (San Anselmo) with a spot in March 28's state championship on the line.

Senior point guard Jiday Ugbaja carried Riordan through the first three quarters, scoring 23 of his team-high 29 points, including six 3-pointers (he also set a Riordan single-season record for 3-pointers).

"It's a blessing to get to this point," Ugbaja said. "My coaches have a lot of confidence in me, and I try to thrive on it and be a leader."

But after he fouled out with 45 seconds left in regulation, the scoring and defensive load shifted to his cousin, senior forward Chiefy Ugbaja. He not only responded, but he came up with the play of the game.

With the Crusaders leading 68-65 with 1:10 left in overtime, Chiefy Ugbaja stuffed Campolindo center Chris Hansen's running baseline dunk attempt, which enabled the Crusaders to seal the game from the free-throw line.

Chiefy Ugbaja finished with 22 points, to go along with 16 rebounds while adding three steals and three blocks.

"We've always been the underdog, and we've always been looked down upon," Chiefy Ugbaja said.

The Crusaders (21-7) were in control for most of the game and led 39-28 -- their largest lead of the night -- with 4:10 left in the third quarter, but Campolindo didn't fold.

Behind senior point guard Andrew Zolintakis, Campolindo (23-8) responded to the 11-point deficit with a 21-6 run. Zolintakis scored 32 of his game-high 38 points in the second half, including his 18-foot jumper from the wing as time expired over three Riordan defenders that sent the game into overtime.

Despite being on the wrong end of a controversial intentional foul that gave Campolindo three free throws and possession of the ball -- which gave Zolintakis the chance to send the game into overtime -- Riordan showed tremendous moxie in the extra session.

Riordan scored the first four points in overtime and was clutch from the free-throw line down the stretch. Sophomore Eric Galindo -- who finished with 17 points -- made 3-of-4 from the charity stripe in the last 15 seconds to help the Crusaders advance to the NorCal Division III championship.

"This team showed a lot of heart and a lot of grit, and that's been our M.O. all season," said Riordan coach Rich Buckner, who now has 100 career wins at Riordan. "It's not always pretty, but we fight until the end, and even when it looked bleak when we were down (51-46) late in the fourth period, we came together even more as a team."

About The Author

Bonta Hill

Pin It

Speaking of...

More by Bonta Hill

Latest in Prep Sports

© 2018 The San Francisco Examiner

Website powered by Foundation