The Leavey Center at Santa Clara University was packed as the nearly undefeated varsity basketball team took on the Mitty Monarchs for the Central Coast Section Open Division title. The student side of the gym was split down the middle as our whited-out student section contrasted Mitty’s black-out theme Friday night for the biggest game of the season.
Mitty kicked off the game at a rapid pace as they took a lead of 10-2 midway through the first quarter. However, it didn’t take long for the tables to begin to shift. Angelo Athens ’17 and Jake Wojcik ’18 picked up the game, tallying up some points for Bellarmine on the score board. Between Athens’ 7-point gain and Wojick’s intense buzzer-beater shot in addition to his assist to Kendall Stubblefield ‘18 for a three-pointer, Bellarmine managed to catch up. These few shots set off a spark in the team, bringing astounding plays and remarkable defense to the second quarter. Some notable points include the layup that gave Bellarmine the lead for the first time at 14-12, the inside pass from Justin Malone ’17 to Colin Denzel ’17, and Ike Ogbogu ’17’s and Athens’ three point shots. Bellarmine capped off the first half with steady control of the game at 30-24.
The crowd was pumped with a mixture of enthusiasm and stress; the arena boomed with mass amounts of energy. In the third quarter, the Monarchs attempted to reclaim their initial place but stood no match at the time with Bellarmine still leading 40-37. It wasn’t until the last quarter that Mitty started to relight the flame that they kicked off the game with. Maintaining only a small advantage over the black and gold, Athens’ two-point shot helped the team but the game tied up moments later. The score continued bouncing back and forth, each team barely inching ahead of each other. The game stayed alive as it went into a four-minute overtime. From there, Athens scored a game-changing deep three, but the Monarchs fought back as Kyle Peterson did the same, giving Mitty the lead, 55-54. After a crowd-questioned and position-jeopardizing offensive foul that gave Mitty possession and two free-throws to Riley Grigsby. With less than four seconds left on the clock, Bell’s last three point shot was barely missed, ending with a final 54-57 Monarchs.
This game was tough to swallow as a Bell, but in no means strips away the team’s success or students’ pride in the season. After winning the school’s first WCAL title since 2001, Bellarmine became 6th in the state and 14th in the nation (via MaxPreps).
As seventh seed in the NorCal bracket, the basketball team plays Sheldon High School in their gym on Friday at 7pm.