Bishop O’Dowd has been a regular in the National Division and likely considers the Torrey Pines gym their second home. But the Dragons placement in the top division has never been charity as they always bring a highly ranked team that has D1 talent.
This year the Dragons are the top ranked team from Northern California and preseason top five state ranked team. Last year the Dragons won the North Coast section division III title and return four starters and 10 players.
The Oakland school features one of the top juniors in the country, 6-9 power forward Ivan Rabb ’15 who is wanted by Arizona, Cal, UConn, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, NC State and UNLV. Ivan Rabb was the 2013 state sophomore of the year.
The Dragons also suit up 5-11 guard Paris Austin ’15 who is considered one of the best players in Northern California and all-league 5-11 guard Juwan Anderson ’14.
Second year head coach Lou Richie ‘89 played on O’Dowd’s 1988 Northern California D1 championship team. Richie went on to play at UCLA and Clemson. Lou Richie was a long time assistant to Doug Vierra and took over the helm last year.
The Dragons likely had the biggest upset in tournament history when they faced Bobby Hurley’s St. Anthony (Jersey City, NJ) Friars in the 1st round in 2008. The Friars were the defending (mythical) national champions and O’Dowd was told in the summer that they would be facing the St. Anthony in the first round.
St. Anthony had won the National Division a record six times already including the inaugural tournament in 1990, their last title was in 2003. In 1993 O'Dowd had lost to St. Anthony in the championship game.
So come December 26th, 2008 the Dragons were chomping at the bit to play the legendary east coast program and Torrey Pines was packed for the 8:00 pm tip-off.
The Friars featured McDonald’s All-American Dominic Cheek ‘09 (Villanova) who was a member of the USA U18 team. The Dragons had a 6-6 freshman named Brandon Ashley ’12, a spit fire junior guard in Nick Capiti ’10, a sharp-shooting guard in James Thomas ’11 and 6-6 freshman Richard Longrus, Jr. ’12.
The Dragons led 11-6 after one quarter and maintained their five-point lead to the half, 27-22. But in the second half Bishop O’Dowd created separation outscoring the Friars in the third quarter 23-9 and finally winning the fourth quarter 19-9 for a 69-40 upset win. This was the worst defeat in Bobby Hurley’s career (36 years up until then).
St. Anthony would go on to win their final three games by an average margin of 13 points and take the Consolation championship over Bellarmine Prep (Tacoma, WA) 54-41.
Bishop O’Dowd would lose to eventual champion Bellevue (WA) 60-47 in the semifinals before taking 3rd place with a 51-30 win over San Diego, who was led by Jeremy Tyler (class of 2010 but left high school after the 2008-09 season).
Two caveats to the upset, St. Anthony had lost six D1 players to graduation from their national championship team. And the Friars had traveled from New Jersey to San Diego that day and encountered flight delays. The game was played at 8:00 pm local time, 11:00 pm New Jersey time.
But to give legendary coach Bobby Hurley his worst loss is still an incredible accomplishment even considering the two caveats.
In Bobby Hurley’s 42 years of coaching as of 2013 all his players have graduated high school and only two players were not accepted into college. Hurley is currently fighting to keep the school open and is behind a long-term plan to raise funds for the beleaguered catholic school.
St. Anthony has begun a campaign called “St. Anthony 2020” with the tagline, “A Playbook for Success on the Court and in the Classroom”. The goal is to raise $ 10 million by 2020.
If you are a big-time prep hoop fan and Holiday Classic fan consider sending some financial applause back east to help keep St. Anthony open. St. Anthony has provided the Holiday Classic with many great memories and six championship years.
Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland, CA) At a Glance
Type: Roman Catholic
Enrollment: 1,130 (2012-13)
5-10 G Paris Austin '15
6-1 G Juwan Anderson '14
6-10 PF Ivan Rabb '15
Recent National Division Results
2012: 7th Place (2-2)
1st Round: def. St. John’s (Houston, TX) 64-57
Quarterfinal: lost to Windward (Los Angeles, CA) 62-56
Consolation: lost to Mundelein (IL) 81-72
7th Place Game: def. Parker (San Diego, CA) 66-62
2011: Did not play
2010: 2nd Place (3-1)
1st Round: def. Franklin (Seattle, WA)
Quarterfinal: def. Centennial (Corona, CA) 61-54
Semifinal: def. St. Edward (Lakewood, OH) 57-54
Championship: lost to Poly (Long Beach, CA) 48-42
2009: 7th Place (2-2)
1st Round: def. Leuziner (Lawndale, CA) 63-62
Quarterfinal: lost to Taft (Woodland Hills, CA) 53-46
Consolation: lost to Price (Los Angeles, CA) 62-49
Cross Over Game: def. Yale (British Columbia, Canada) 68-54
2008: 3rd Place (3-1)
1st Round: def. St. Anthony (Jersey City, NJ) 69-40
Quarterfinal: def. Newark Memorial (Newark, CA) 62-55
Semifinal: lost to Bellevue (WA) 60-47 (eventual champion)
3rd Place Game: def. San Diego (CA) 51-30