St. Francis basketball tops Chaminade to grind out another win during brutal stretch of games



LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE >> In what has already been another unusual season, the St. Francis boys basketball team is taking an unusual path ahead of the CIF-Southern Section playoffs.

The Golden Knights are playing 10 games in 15 days. They’re now halfway through and coach Todd Wolfson says so far so good following a 54-48 win over Chaminade in a key Mission League game on Friday night.

The Golden Knights are 4-1 in this gauntlet run and play Saturday against Grant before resting on Sunday then playing Serra on Monday. After that, they have two big league showdowns Wednesday and Friday, Jan. 21, against two of the state’s top teams in Harvard-Westlake and Notre Dame.

St. Francis had to schedule so many games in such a short period because Wolfson said seven games were canceled due to COVID protocols. The Golden Knights didn’t play any games between Dec. 18 and Jan. 7. Now, they hardly have any days off.

“We’re kind of treading through mud right now, just trying to get through (this stretch of games),” Wolfson said. “They’re 17 years old so I’m hoping they still got some legs left.”

St. Francis (14-3, 2-1) is only playing each of its six league opponents once this season rather than the usual two games, so Wolfson said every league win means that much more.

“Every game in the Mission League is tough, whether it’s the first-place team or the last-place team,” Wolfson said. “We’ll take any win we can get whether it’s by one or 100.”

The win over Chaminade (9-10, 0-1) was significantly closer to the one-point margin. St. Francis and the Eagles went back-and-forth throughout the first half. The game started slowly with each team scoring seven in the first quarter.

Chaminade, which won the CIF-SS Division 1 championship last season, appeared to find a groove and took a 14-10 lead early in the second quarter before St. Francis used a 12-4 run to take a four-point lead,  22-18, toward the end of the period thanks to Buckley DeJardin and Jake Goldberg.

In that stretch, Goldberg scored five of his 11 points. DeJardin scored four of his game-high 15 points.

Chaminade though closed the gap to 24-23 at halftime.

St. Francis started to pull away in the third quarter. The team built a 30-23 lead while holding the Eagles scoreless for nearly half the quarter. Chaminade cut the Golden Knights’ lead to 33-30 when Robert Burns buried a 20-foot 3-pointer.

St. Francis closed the quarter with a 6-0 run thanks to Brandin Dantzler. He scored four of those points. His last two came after a steal when he took a pass and raced down the court to hit a layup just before the buzzer sounded to end the quarter. St. Francis then led 39-30.

Dantzler finished the game with 10 points.

“(Dantzler) is a glue guy for us,” Wolfson said. “He makes a play here and there and has been great for us.”

St. Francis built a 10-point lead twice in the fourth quarter before Chaminade cut the lead to 44-39 halfway through the quarter when Souljah Niles hit a 22-foot 3 as the shot clock expired.

Dantzler though came through again and scored shortly after when he grabbed an offensive rebound and put the ball back up through the hoop. He was fouled in the process and hit his free throw to cap the 3-point play and put St. Francis up 47-39. Chaminade never seriously threatened again.



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