Junior Martin Cao slashes between two Cristo Rey defenders for a layup during the Cavs' 60-35 homecoming loss. (Photo by Emma Boersma)

Varsity boys basketball ‘out-toughed’ by Cristo Rey in homecoming loss

In his season debut, senior guard Jackson Crawford led the Cavs with 17 points in the team’s 60-35 loss to the Cristo Rey Saints before a large homecoming crowd at Country Day on Jan. 10. 

Crawford returned to the team after announcing he would not play this season.

“I got a little caught up with college and golf,” Crawford said. “But I realized I’m an 18-year-old kid, and I should do what I want to do: get the full Country Day experience, and have fun with my friends in this awesome home game atmosphere.”  

Senior center Aaron Graves (four points) appreciated Crawford’s 3-point shooting.

“It was great having him back for the game,” Graves said. “(Crawford’s) play style opened up the game for the rest of the team, which allowed us to penetrate the key more often.”

The game, complete with Cavalier fans waving red-and-black pom-poms and chanting “Let’s Go Cavs!,” started off fast, with freshman forward Rod Azghadi scoring the first two points. However, a foul was soon given to the Saints. Capitalizing on it, the Saints made a free throw and scored two additional layups in rapid succession. 

Cristo Rey (4-6 overall, 1-2 Sacramento Metropolitan Athletic League) dominated the first period, letting the Cavs (0-10, 0-4) score only once more as they trailed 13-4.

Coach David Ancrum cited the Saints’ aggressive playing style as a reason for the early gap.

“We were about the same size as them,” Ancrum said. “But they wanted (to win) more. The (Cavs) played soft, and Cristo Rey just out-toughed us.”

Azghadi agreed.

“The team just needs to play harder,” Azghadi said. “The fifty-fifty balls were where we really struggled. If we can start getting the (defensive) rebounds, we will start to get more wins.”

The second period began with a quick drive and a basket by the Saints within the first minute. 

“We were sloppy with the ball, so (the Saints) were able to (score) most of their points inside of five feet,” Crawford said. “It would’ve been a closer game if we attacked the hoop and got to the free-throw line more often.”

The Cavs started playing tougher in the fourth period — junior power forward Martin Cao (four points) and Azghadi both fouled out — and Ancrum liked the effort.

“Although (Cao) fouled out, he did a great job today,” Ancrum said. “He did well because he was tough. He didn’t let anyone else push him around, and he showed the toughness that the whole team needs to show.”

At the game’s end, the Cavs strung together several passes, finishing with freshman center Jacob Chand (four points, seven rebounds) scoring the final two points.

Despite their loss, the Cavs pushed the ball on offense better overall, according to Ancrum. Additionally, Crawford said he is looking forward to the Cavs’ next game.

“We have a bunch of new guys on the team since last year,” Crawford said. “I was just getting used to everybody and the game again. But we have another game soon, so we’ll get another crack at it.”

The Cavs face Buckingham Charter at Vaca Pena Middle School in Vacaville on Monday, Jan. 13, at 8 p.m.

By Arijit Trivedi and Miles Morrow

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