Midway through the first quarter a surly Red Devil parent tried to rally the teams beleaguered spirits by yelling, “Good call, ref” on a questionable call that went against the Cardinals. Observing the affair from the belly of the beast the University section we responded with a hearty, “NOOOOOO!” When the man cast a sidelong glance in our direction. We began to laugh. Another fan, a trophy wife rivaling Michael Jackson in evident facial enhancements, flashed us an icy glare that was equal parts befuddlement and outrage. We looked her dead in the eye and continued to laugh. She turned away.
Just as we got the best of our quarrel with University fans, the Cardinals smacked the Red Devils silly in a 52-31 blowout.
The Cardinals came out swinging. The boys controlled the entire first quarter, running rampant over their overmatched University opponents. The team cruised to a comfortable 14-8 lead at the end of the quarter. But despite being clearly outclassed by a dominant Cardinal squad, the Red Devils were not ready to concede defeat.
We looked her dead in the eye and continued to laugh. She turned away.
In an exciting second quarter drama, University mounted a gutsy comeback, led by the scrappy point guard known as Tommy Tugboat. Powered by young Tommy and playing with a new resolve, the Devils turned up the heat defensively and outscored Lowell 11-9 in the quarter, reversing the momentum of the game and pulling to within four at the end of the half, 23-19.
But the halftime break sucked the wind out of Universitys sails. The Cardinals relentless defensive intensity eventually wore down the Red Devils, as Lowell outscored University 29-12 in the second half. The Red Devils self-destructed, turning the ball over possession after possession.
The Tugboats magic wilted under the pressure. The Cardinals top all-around player, sophomore Allen Hom, keyed the turnaround with his defensive wizardry and offensive production. In the pivotal third quarter, when the team needed his defense to stem the Red tide, Hom snagged three steals. And in the fourth quarter, Hom hammered the nail in the Devils coffin with a pair of scintillating buckets. He grabbed an offensive rebound, went right back up, made the shot, drew the foul and hit the free throw. Soon afterwards, Hom buried a pretty turnaround jumper to stretch the lead to 44-28.
“They (University) werent really that great of a team,” head coach Randy Moharron said of the University squad.
But the Cardinals pounding of the Red menace was no fluke they had already won their first eight games of the season by convincing margins before falling to Menlo-Atherton.
“Our egos could pose a challenge,” sophomore Chris Turner said. “We won too many games and got big-headed and lost.”
The mental part of the game, however, usually swings to Lowells advantage. Coach Moharran recognizes the Cardinals lack of height and athleticism, and plans to compensate for it through superior smarts. Moharran, an eager first-year coach, grew up in Santa Barbara and played basketball at Santa Barbara City College. It was there he met varsity coach Rob Ray, who offered him the position.
“Coach Ray and I come from the same school of coaching,” Moharran said. “We emphasize defense and being smarter than everyone else.”
The players share Moharrans priorities. “We need to work on rebounding because were a small team,” freshman point guard Arthur “Big Hair” Jones said.
Freshman Jordan Wong added, “We also need to work on closing out defensively.”
The Cardinals hope to carry their winning ways into the regular season, beginning with a contest against ISA at 3:45 on January 4 at Lowell.