The season ended a little sooner than hoped, though the Priory boys basketball team played long enough and well enough to show its one of the top teams in Northern California.
In what was supposed to be a rebuilding season, fourth-seeded Priory reached the CIF State NorCal Division V regional championship Tuesday night, losing to No. 3 Stuart Hall 44-37 at Kezar Pavilion in San Francisco.
The Panthers (19-12) lose a few more important seniors this season and will still retain a solid core of athletes who will certainly remember this setback and will come back stronger as a result.
“There’s only going to be one team standing at the end of every season,” Priory coach David Moseley said. “We’ll go into the locker room and see tears. This was a great group of seniors but we are young and I hope they can use it as motivation for next year. This is the kind of loss that can lead to championships.”
To the Priory fans who traveled with the team all season, they already are champions. Moseley was surrounded by well-wisher’s minutes after Priory received the runner-up award and congratulated like he was the winner.
“They are the greatest group of fans,” Moseley said. “They stuck with us all season.”
The seniors helped bring Priory into the limelight the past four years. They dealt with two of the toughest years anyone could imagine and did so with confidence and style.
Stuart Hall (21-12) advances to the state championship game against Chaffey (24-12) at the Golden One Center in Sacramento on Friday. Game time is noon.
The Stuart Hall seniors had the memory of losing in the NorCal regionals two years running and then losing out last season.
“A couple of years ago they lost a tough one (in overtime),” Moseley said. “The coaches (Charles Johnson is Stuart Hall’s head coach) experienced those games and they were ready this time. They brought the intensity.”
Priory experienced its first ever regional final and were never more than nine points behind at any spot in the game.
Junior guard Tayo Sobohemin, who finished with a team high 13 points, hit consecutive 3-pointers to pull Priory within 31-30 with 4:02 remaining to play.
Stuart Hall responded with three 3-pointers of its own and eventually led 41-32 with 1:29 remaining.
Priory senior Oliver Conn scored the game’s first basket and fellow senior Caleb Huffman scored the final basket.
In between, Sobohemin and fellow juniors Rostand Olama Abanda, Clint Smith, Walker Rust, Cole Blevins, sophomore Steve Emeneke and freshman Ryder Bush were busy showing they are just getting started.