Pilots Basketball Takes Flight, 71-56

Pilots Basketball Takes Flight, 71-56

The St. Joseph Notre Dame (SJND) men’s basketball team opened the 2022-2023 season with a 71-56 victory over Mt. Diablo High School of Concord in their home gym.

On Nov. 18, the Pilots welcomed the Red Devils to Kelly Gymnasium, looking to translate their play from practices to game action for the first time this season. Parents and students representing both teams loudly cheered the players on from the stands.

SJND got off to a fast start as the team opened the contest with a 6-0 run. Eventually, the visitors grew into the contest and started making some shots. The Pilots held a 12-9 lead at the end of the first quarter. The home team continued to maintain their advantage in the second period. The Pilots led 30-23 at halftime despite committing 17 turnovers and not shooting the ball that well. The Red Devils did not play that well either as they missed a lot of free throw attempts and committed many turnovers.

Both teams’ defenses were locked in from the start, resulting in a very physical and scrappy first half that had seemingly almost as many whistles blown as shots made.

In the second half, the Pilots settled down and made the necessary adjustments. The Pilots did a much better job limiting turnovers, bad shot attempts, empty offensive possessions, and other mistakes that plagued them in the first half. Whenever Mt. Diablo tried to make a run to cut into their deficit, SJND answered back, protecting and then extending their lead. In the end, SJND’s superior depth and balanced offensive attack proved the difference as the Pilots pulled away late in this non-league encounter.

After the game, SJND head coach Don Lippi commented on the struggles his team encountered in the game.

“What we are trying to work on is getting them to play like a group,” said Lippi. “A lot of us were trying to score for ourselves. We just don’t see what is open and some people took shots that they should not be shooting. We’ve got to stop committing so many turnovers. We will be here at eight tomorrow morning to work on that.”

SJND senior team captain Kyle McDowell (#13) and juniors Alex Duenas (#20) and Gabe Enyinwa (#0) all made big shots to help the Pilots secure the victory.

Mt. Diablo senior Day Day Williams (#1) was the Red Devils’ main source of offense. He scored a game high 29 points.