Advertisement

Stone Ridge Christian boys use strong second half to open NorCal hoop playoffs with win

The Stone Ridge Christian High boys basketball team kept feeding big man Brock Richards in the second half against Point Arena.

The 6-foot-4 senior took the ball and dominated inside, scoring 18 of his team-high 26 points in the second half as the No. 2 seeded Knights pulled away for a 78-67 victory in the Northern California Regional Division VI playoffs in front of a near capacity crowd at Stone Ridge Christian High School on Wednesday night.

“Brock was huge in the second half,” said SRC coach Tyler Rogers, whose team improved to 24-8 after winning its first NorCal playoff game in the program’s history. “It was give him the ball and get out of way. Sometimes that’s the best offense.”

The Stone Ridge Christian bench celebrates a Knight’s basket during a NorCal Regional playoff game against Point Arena at Stone Ridge Christian High School in Merced, Calif., on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. The Knights beat the Pirates 78-67.
The Stone Ridge Christian bench celebrates a Knight’s basket during a NorCal Regional playoff game against Point Arena at Stone Ridge Christian High School in Merced, Calif., on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. The Knights beat the Pirates 78-67.

The Knights had to dig deep in the second half after the No. 7 seeded Pirates (18-8) took a 43-41 lead at the half.

Point Arena was led by the hot shooting for of junior guard Fernando Lopez who drained five first-half 3-pointers. He finished the game with seven 3-pointers made and 27 points.

Pirates forward Dauki Bechtol added 18 points with nine points scored in each half.

Stone Ridge Christian junior Kassius Salazar (15) attempts a layup during a NorCal Regional playoff game against Point Arena at Stone Ridge Christian High School in Merced, Calif., on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. The Knights beat the Pirates 78-67.
Stone Ridge Christian junior Kassius Salazar (15) attempts a layup during a NorCal Regional playoff game against Point Arena at Stone Ridge Christian High School in Merced, Calif., on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. The Knights beat the Pirates 78-67.

“I felt in the first half (Point Arena) wanted it more,” Rogers said. “We had some conversations at halftime, but I think collectively our guys didn’t want this to be our last game. We made some adjustments but the biggest adjustment was playing with more heart.”

The Knights opened the second half with an 11-3 run to open up a 52-46 lead and was able to stretch the lead to 63-55 by the end of the third quarter.

“I think we came out in the first half thinking we already had the game won,” said Richards, who added 17 rebounds and four steals. “We had to lock in more in the second half. We fed our bigs. When we get the ball inside our big guys can still distribute the ball and we can work inside and out.”

Stone Ridge Christian sophomore Daijon O’neil (2) looks to pass the ball during a NorCal Regional playoff game against Point Arena at Stone Ridge Christian High School in Merced, Calif., on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. The Knights beat the Pirates 78-67.
Stone Ridge Christian sophomore Daijon O’neil (2) looks to pass the ball during a NorCal Regional playoff game against Point Arena at Stone Ridge Christian High School in Merced, Calif., on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. The Knights beat the Pirates 78-67.

SRC junior guard Kassius Salazar followed up his 31 points in the section championship game with 20 points against Point Arena.

Daijon O’Neil and Cooper Trost added 11 points each. Rogers credited the defense of Trost and Luke Agueda for contributing to the win. Trost added 12 rebounds, two blocks and two steals.

Stone Ridge Christian’s depth helped as the Knights went nine deep. That helped wear down a Point Arena team that only used seven players most of the game.

“We trust everyone we throw out there,” Rogers said. “We’ve played eight or nine guys all year, whether it was a big game or not. The moment is not too big for any of our guys.”

It was Richards’ moment in the fourth quarter as he scored 10 points in the final quarter to second the victory.

Stone Ridge Christian sophomore Cooper Trost (11) attempts a short jump shot during a NorCal Regional playoff game against Point Arena at Stone Ridge Christian High School in Merced, Calif., on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. The Knights beat the Pirates 78-67.
Stone Ridge Christian sophomore Cooper Trost (11) attempts a short jump shot during a NorCal Regional playoff game against Point Arena at Stone Ridge Christian High School in Merced, Calif., on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. The Knights beat the Pirates 78-67.

“He’s the best big man in this area,” Rogers said. “I’ve been saying that for two years. His skill set and size allow him to play inside or outside. What has taken him to the next level is his patience.”

Stone Ridge Christian will be back in action in the semifinals on Saturday at 7 p.m. against No. 6 Napa Christian, which defeated No. 3 Biggs 97-81 on Wednesday night.

Stone Ridge Christian junior Luke Agueda (1) dribbles up the court during a NorCal Regional playoff game against Point Arena at Stone Ridge Christian High School in Merced, Calif., on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. The Knights beat the Pirates 78-67.
Stone Ridge Christian junior Luke Agueda (1) dribbles up the court during a NorCal Regional playoff game against Point Arena at Stone Ridge Christian High School in Merced, Calif., on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. The Knights beat the Pirates 78-67.
The Stone Ridge Christian student section cheers during a NorCal Regional playoff game against Point Arena at Stone Ridge Christian High School in Merced, Calif., on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. The Knights beat the Pirates 78-67.
The Stone Ridge Christian student section cheers during a NorCal Regional playoff game against Point Arena at Stone Ridge Christian High School in Merced, Calif., on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. The Knights beat the Pirates 78-67.
Stone Ridge Christian head coach Tyler Rogers and assist coach Hector Nava speak to their players between quarters of a NorCal Regional playoff game against Point Arena at Stone Ridge Christian High School in Merced, Calif., on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. The Knights beat the Pirates 78-67.
Stone Ridge Christian head coach Tyler Rogers and assist coach Hector Nava speak to their players between quarters of a NorCal Regional playoff game against Point Arena at Stone Ridge Christian High School in Merced, Calif., on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. The Knights beat the Pirates 78-67.