BBK: Warriors survive late challenge from Cardinals

Carpinteria's Omar Miranda surveys the floor while getting hand-checked by Bishop Diego's AV Bennett

Carpinteria’s Omar Miranda surveys the floor while getting hand-checked by Bishop Diego’s AV Bennett


Carpinteria never trailed in the second half of Friday night’s Tri-Valley League opener, but that doesn’t mean victory was easy. Bishop Diego’s furious rally in the final quarter came up just short and the Warriors escaped the Brickhouse with a 63-58 rivalry win in front of a capacity crowd.

The Warriors led by as many as 10 early in the fourth quarter and took a 57-49 lead on a basket by Mason Picerni with four minutes to go. That’s when the Cardinals broke out on a 6-0 run, capped by a steal and layup by AV Bennett. Bennett crumbled to the floor after the play and had to leave the game with cramps.

Omar Miranda capped off his 26-point performance driving to the basket on the next possession and the Warriors made four straight free throws in the final 32.4 seconds to seal the victory.

“We kept our composure. There were times when we could have lost it but we just played together, played as a family,” said Carpinteria’s Mason Picerni. “It just really came down to playing smart and making the right passes.”

Bishop Diego’s aggressiveness put the Cardinals in the bonus for most of the fourth quarter, helping Bishop Diego eat away at the lead. The Cardinals shot two free throws in the first half compared to 19 in the second half.

VIDEO: Carpinteria’s Omar Miranda hits a three-pointer while getting fouled in Friday’s game. A missed free throw kept it from being a four-point play.

“They just turned the tempo up,” said Warriors head coach Johnny Ward, who is a former Bishop Diego player. “I think they thought they could come back and get it and they kept inching and inching.”

The Warriors needed the free throws by Noah Reed and Malcolm Gordon because Bishop Diego freshman Will Goodwin kept the Cardinals alive with his second 3-pointer of the game with 25.1 seconds on the clock. Goodwin’s trey brought the Cardinals to within 61-58 before Duncan converted his two free throws to make it a two-possession game.

“We work a lot on free throws,” Ward said. “Early in the year, we weren’t that good at shooting them but they’re making them now when it counts.”

Bishop Diego point guard Alexis Herrera brings the ball upcourt against Carpinteria's Jonathan Cleek.

Bishop Diego point guard Alexis Herrera brings the ball upcourt against Carpinteria’s Jonathan Cleek.

Marco Schneider led Bishop Diego with 17 points followed by Alexis Herrera’s 15. After knocking down four 3-pointers in the first half, the Warriors made a point of sticking closer to Schneider in the second half. Herrera picked up the slack, scoring nine of his 15 after halftime.

Picerni tallied 15 points for the Warriors and was a difference maker in the paint with his rebounding and shot blocking.

“We knew we had a mismatch with him tonight, just because of his size and his wingspan. He was an anchor for us,” Ward said.

Bishop Diego head coach Jeff Koval was coaching his first Tri-Valley League game and was impressed by the intensity.

“I learned league games are a lot tougher to win,” Koval said. “I told them in there, we play this hard against almost any non-league opponent and we win by 15-20 points. They played their butts off.”

It was the first league game between the two schools since the 2011-12 season.

“It’s great that we’re in the same league again. I missed it,” Ward said. “It’s fun playing them here and (in Carpinteria). I can’t wait for the next one.”

Carpinteria improves to 7-6, 1-0 while Bishop Diego falls to 6-11, 0-1. The Warriors play next on Wednesday at St. Bonaventure. The Cardinals are in action right away, hosting Pacifica on Saturday in a non-league game.