Pilots Heading for Northern Regional Showdown

St. Joseph Notre Dame (SJND) senior Temidayo Yussuf alonescored more than half the points of the team opposing him, in the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Northern regional men’s basketball quarterfinals.

The Pilots coasted to a 57-35 victory over the Pinewood Panthers of Los Altos Hills last Saturday, March 15. Yussuf, who will play basketball at the next level in the fall at Long Beach State, led all players with a game-high 19 points, more than half of the Panther’s point total and 33 percent of his team’s total. The Pilots controlled the contest in all phases of the game — offense, defense and rebounding.

The contest was close at the end of the first period. SJND built up a modest 14-11 lead after the first quarter. But the Pilots’ defense put the clamps on the Pinewood offense attack in the second quarter holding the Panthers to just three points. Pinewood’s only field goal in the period came courtesy of a Pilots basket-interference violation.

While the Panthers’ offense was struggling in the second period, the Pilots’ offense was striving. The Pilots started the second quarter on a 13-0 run and SJND never looked back from there. Pilot senior Lamont Banks tipped in a buzzer-beater to send the Pilots into halftime with a 32-14 lead. SJND outscored Pinewood 18-3 in the second quarter.

The Pilots stretched their lead in the third period outscoring the Panthers 20-8. The play of the game came in the third period with an alley-oop dunk from Estaban Lovato to Yussuf for the finish. 
The Pilots held a 52-22 lead after the third period. SJND head coach Don Lippi then decided to rest his starters for most of the fourth quarter. The Panthers made a small dent in the Pilots’ enormous lead, but the damage was too insurmountable to make it a threat to the final outcome of the game. The Panthers outscored the Pilots 13-5 in the final quarter to make it a 57-35 final score.

Yussuf added 11 rebounds and two blocks to go along with his 19 points. Jadé Smith finished with 11 points for the Pilots. Smith also accumulated six rebounds and five steals.

Lovato and Marcus Harris added 10 points each to help the Pilots earn the victory.

Senior Greg Naumann led the Panthers with 14 of the team’s 35 points. His teammate Ryan Brice added 11 points in the Panthers’ effort. No other player scored more than five points for the Panthers.

The Pilots, who won the North Coast Section Division V championship earlier this month, moved its overall record to 28-5 on the year. The Pilots advanced to the semifinal and took on Brookside Christian of Stockton on Tuesday, March 18. The game took place after the Alameda Sun went to press. If SJND wins the semifinal they will play in the Northern regional final on Saturday,  March 22, against the winner of Central Catholic of Modesto and Branson of Ross. If the Panthers make it to the regional final it would be the team’s fourth appearance in a row.

Contact Ekene Ikeme at eikeme@alamedasun.com.