With just a week left in regular season play, Cardinal Gibbons’ boys and girls are playing well and hoping to make a statement in the PAC-6 Conference basketball tournament and then keep things going in the state playoffs.
Both Crusaders teams took wins Friday night at home against Person.
The girls ran into little resistance in their 65-30 win against a Rockets team that was missing four starters due to disciplinary reasons.
The boys (16-5, 7-3) raced to their seventh win a row, 77-64, against a Person team that is winless in league play.
Gibbons senior Madi Bonello kick-started her team with three 3-pointers in the opening minutes and the sharp shooting Crusaders hit nine 3-pointers in the win. Bonello hit five of them on her way to a game-high 17 points.
“She could shoot the ball the first time I saw her play when she was in the fifth grade,” said Gibbons coach Jessica Lowe. “Her shooting got her on the varsity the end of her freshman year, but her total game has expanded.
Bonello leads the team scoring at 10.6 per game, followed by Madi Reid at 9 points per game. Joey Uzarski scored 11 in the win and Reid added 9.
“When we shoot the ball well , we’re tough to guard and tonight everything was going in,” Lowe said. “We’re balanced and averaging more assists this year. We’re at our best when we’re sharing the ball.”
Bonello is looking to end her high school career on a high note.
“We’re playing well as a team and when the playoffs start we want to extend the season for as long as we can,” Bonello said.
Person is 11-10 and 4-6 after the loss. But the Rockets beat the Crusaders earlier in the year and are having an historically significant season.
“This game was not a display of who we are,” Rockets coach Jay Carmichael said. “Part of coaching is disciplining and we played without four starters tonight. ... But it looks like we will be in the playoffs for the first time in 20 years and this year we won our first PAC-6 game in (five) years. I’ve been here three years and Jada Bradford is a senior and has been through the process and is our team leader.”
Mike Brannon and his fellow seniors have led the Crusaders to a very good season so far, but they still have a lot of goals in front of them.
Brannon, a 6-3 point guard, had 10 assists and 10 points in Friday’s win. Another senior, Kevin Edwards, had 15 points and 6-5 sophomore post player Mike Walsh scored 17 and pulled 9 rebounds.
East Chapel Hill is undefeated in the league and Gibbons plays there Tuesday.
“That would be a big win for us,” Brannon said. “And we’re looking to win the conference tournament and then make a run in the playoffs. You never want the season to end.”
He continued: “And we have to do the fundamentals, take care of the ball, play defense, and rebound. We’ve got guys on the outside who can score and two great post players in Ody Oguama and Mike Walsh inside. We’re really balanced, that’s one of our strengths. Take one of our guys away and we’ve got six others who can score.”
Crusaders coach Jim Ryan appreciates his eight seniors on the roster.
“All of them contributed in this win,” Ryan said. “Brannan has really come into his own this season. And Edwards had a season high in this game. When he does that it takes away some of the attention on Walsh and opens things up for him.”
Brannon averages 11 points per game, Oguama averages 10, and Walsh averages 13.
“We knew Walsh would be good, but he’s really stepped up,” Ryan said. “I didn’t know he would be leading us in scoring and rebounding. He has a bright future.”