Knights look to knock off best Div. 4 team in state
Stuart Hall takes on St. Joseph Notre Dame
February 28, 2017
Knights’ basketball takes on the Pilots of St. Joseph Notre Dame in a semifinal game on Wednesday night in Alameda for a chance at Stuart Hall’s second North Coast Section Championship in three years.
Despite the Pilots’ 11-1 record in its own gym, the team is not counting on playing in Alameda to carry them to victory.
“Playing at home is an advantage in the regular season,” St. Joseph Notre Dame head coach Don Lippi said, “but in playoffs that is diminished because both teams are really focused on the end of the season.”
This is the Hall’s second meeting with the Pilots this year, with the Pilots prevailing 74-45 in the team’s first meeting on Jan. 14 in Alameda, although the Knights were missing four players in that contest.
“The team we played in January is not the team Stuart Hall is today,” Lippi said. “[Stuart Hall] was missing players and they were key players. If that happened to us, that would weaken us also.”
The Pilots are led by their college-bound duo Darné Duckett ’17 and Jade’ Smith ’17 who have been courted by Whitman College and Pepperdine University, respectively, according to the San Francisco Chronicle and ESPN. The duo has been wreaking havoc on defenses all year, with Smith coming up one point short of a triple-double in the NCS quarterfinals.
The Knights will counter with their own duo of Darná Stewart ’17 and Sean Ingoglia ’18 who are good for 28.7 combined points per game.
“We have a great group of guys that can score,” Stewart said. “It’s not just one or two of us, and I think that will make a huge impact on the game this time around.”
Stuart Hall’s secret weapons may lie in Jeremiah Sullivan ’17 and Miles Amos ’19. Sullivan, the Knights’ best defender, will be tasked with keeping Smith silent and could go a long way in helping the Knights steal a win on the road.
“He’s a difficult player to guard,” Sullivan said. “His size, in addition to his ability to score and make plays for his team make him a tough cover.”
Amos is the team’s third scoring option who can drastically alter the outcome of a contest when he goes for a big game. The sophomore point guard is coming off a 28-point game against University in the quarterfinals, where he sunk 18 of 21 free throws.
“I just want to continue the momentum,” Amos said. “We have it and can carry it with us through NCS and CIF.”
The Knights will need to put together their best game of the year as they try and knock off the defending state champion and number one ranked team in Division 4.
“To beat Stuart Hall you have to match their speed and aggression,” Lippi said. “[Stuart Hall] disrupts a lot of what you try to do on offense and you have to counter that.”
The Knights will look to their game plan to help them compete with St. Joe’s.
“Defensive transition and taking care of the basketball will be the keys to us staying in the game,” Stuart Hall head basketball coach Charles Johnson said. “We threw the ball around the last time and had far too many turnovers.”
The NCS semifinal will tip off at 8 pm at St. Joseph Notre Dame.