Cards thankful for waterproof Brickhouse, win 52-48

A leaky roof in Ojai gave Bishop Diego’s boys basketball team an assist on Wednesday night.

“I can’t tell you how happy I was that this game was at home. We were supposed to be on the road, but they got rained out so we were able to play here,” said coach Ray “Slash” Vazquez after his Cardinals eked out a 52-48 Frontier League win over Villanova.

“I thought it really helped us in our confidence to play this one now, here.”

The game was far from pretty, but the Cardinals did just enough to win it.

Bishop’s Noah Tack gets ready to go up against Villanova defenders in the post. Tack scored 16 points and had 10 rebounds.

Elias Muñoz, who finished with a game-high 17 points, knocked down both free throws in a one-and-one situation with seven seconds left to make it a two-possession game and end the scoring. Bishop had committed 21 turnovers, including 10 in the first quarter, and shot just 11-for-21 from the charity stripe.

Villanova’s press stifled the hosts for much of the game. When the Cardinals ran their press break correctly it worked just fine, but when they put the ball on the floor they were in trouble.

“The trouble for us is that we like to dribble through everything, but when we start passing through the press it breaks it down a lot easier,” said senior Hayden Slaught, who finished with five points and admirably defended Villanova star James Engesser.

Engesser, a lightning-fast lefty point guard, finished with a quiet 16 points.

“Hayden gave up his offensive game to guard Engesser, who’s a stud,” said Vazquez. “I thought he did an outstanding job on him. The kid still had 16 points, but Hayden did what we asked and kept him in front. We wanted to make sure we gave him a lot of room.”

Noah Tack chipped in 16 points and 10 boards.

Despite the 10 turnovers in the first period, the Cardinals won the quarter 10-9. Alex Ramirez nailed a 3-pointer that put Bishop up 19-15 with 3:40 to go in the second quarter, but the Wildcats roared back and took the lead on an Andrew Meyer trey to put the visitors up 22-19.

It went back-and-forth in the final minutes of the half. Tack grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled with less than a second remaining. He hit both free throws to tie the score at 25-25 heading into the locker room. The Cardinals had committed 16 turnovers by that point.

Vazquez must have gone over the press break during the intermission, because his team ran it flawlessly on a possession early in the second half and it led to an easy bucket.

“We knew they were going to press us. It’s crazy as a coach what you go over in practice and preparation, and yet sometimes the kids seem to think it won’t work,” said Vazquez. “The one time when we ran it perfectly, it got us a wide-open lay-up.”

Paul Garcia sent a beautiful pass from half-court to a leaping Muñoz, who put it away to put Bishop up 33-31 with 4:45 to go in the third. Muñoz then hit a pair of free throws to close the third quarter, giving Bishop it’s biggest lead at 41-31.

Bishop (10-7, 2-2) missed some easy shots early in the fourth quarter and Villanova (6-12, 1-3) crept back in, going on a 9-point run down the stretch. Michael Chase hit a jumper with 15 seconds to go that made it a two-point game, but Muñoz iced it with his final two free throws.

The Cardinals play at Grace Brethren on Friday night.


VILLANOVA — Engesser 16, Palmer 4, Placial 12, Meyer 8, Reilbey 2, David 4. Totals 16 8-13 48.

BISHOP DIEGO — Slaught 5, Holland 3, Garcia 7, Speier 2, Muñoz 17, Tack 16, Ramirez 4. Totals 20 11-21 52.

Villanova…9  16  6  17 —48

Bishop Diego…10  15  16  11 — 52

3-point goals — V 1 (Placial), BD 3 (Slaught, Holland, Garcia). Total fouls — V 20, BD 13.