St. Joseph senior guard Michael Ramirez said Friday night that his job this season has been to "give our team a lot of energy early and then focus on defense."
He spoke after he had done just that in St. Joseph's 79-53 win over Foster Road rival Righetti in a PAC 8 League game in front of an overflow crowd at Righetti's Warrrior Gym.
Ramirez scored 11 points in the first quarter and then settled in on defense to help the Knights keep the Warriors from getting any consistent rhythm on offense.
Elihu Cobb, St. Joseph's 6-foot-7 senior center did a lot of the Knights' scoring after Ramirez's big first quarter and finished with a game high 24 points. Ramirez had a big flourish late and finished with 18.
St. Joseph moved to 4-1 in the PAC 8 League and 11-7 overall. Righetti is 3-15, 0-5.
Cobb seemed to think several times about trying to dunk the ball early then settled for layins. In the second half he dunked the ball three times and had the large St. Joseph contingent roaring when he threw down Angel Ortiz's alley oop pass with one hand on the last one.
As for Ramirez, "Michael gives us a lot on defense, and when he gets it going on offense that's just a bonus for us," said St. Joseph coach Tom Mott.
Five Knights finished in double figures. Ortiz scored 12 points and Matt Chavez had 11. Tevesi Aaua added 10.
Point guard Weston Hammell led Righetti with 21 points. Caleb Thomas added 13 and Joon soo Lee, coming off the bench, added 10.
St. Joseph led from the time Ramirez put in a follow shot at the 6:51 mark of the first quarter. He scored his team's first seven points.
The Knights led 19-6 late in the first quarter. The Warriors, behind four Thomas free throws and two Hammell baskets, came within 22-15 early in the second quarter but couldn't come any closer.
St. Joseph's offense perked up in Wednesday and Friday league games after Arroyo Grande beat the Knights 60-48 in a PAC 8 League game Monday night.
"The practices after that were good. We focused, and tonight we came out hot," said Ramirez.
As the game wore on, the Warriors had trouble keeping Cobb from roaring down the lane and getting near the basket to put in follow shots. Cobb scored eight points on put-backs.
St. Joseph out-scored Righetti in every quarter. The Knights led 42-27 at halftime.
The Knights had some trouble with turnovers against the Warriors' hustling defense, but for the most part St. Joseph's offense was effective.
"With high school kids, you're going to have peaks and valleys," Mott said afterward.
"The key thing is how you respond after a low points. I think our kids responded very well," after the Arroyo Grande game.
St. Joseph and Righetti both have home league games at 7 p.m. next Tuesday night. St. Joseph will host Mission Prep, which lost 66-57 to San Luis Obispo in a battle for first place Friday night. Righetti will play Paso Robles.
Arroyo Grande 67, Pioneer Valley 47
Four Eagles scored in double figures, and Arroyo Grande buried 13 3-pointers in a win over the Panthers in a PAC 8 League game at Arroyo Grande's James Gymnasium.
A.J. Panetta led balanced Eagles' scoring with 17 points. Gage Gomez scored 15 points, Jacob Soriano had 12 and Bryan Smith scored 10.
Jayden Jones led Pioneer Valley with 14 points. Taylor Burns had 13.
The Eagles moved to 4-1 in the PAC 8 League. The Panthers are 1-4 in the PAC 8.
Righetti 88, St. Joseph 45
Zane Sheckherd poured in 28 points as the Warriors (14-1, 5-0) won their 20th consecutive PAC 8 League game with a win at St. Joseph (5-11, 2-3).
The streak dates back to Righetti's last league game of 2016.
Mercedes Arredondo scored 15 points for the Warriors, who led 44-24 at halftime. Ashley Reynoso put in 10 points. Dominique Garcia added eight.
Jenna Patel led St. Joseph with 17 points, and Sam Brackett had 16.
Righetti 7, St. Joseph 2
Five different Warriors scored, and seven Righetti players had assists as the Warriors beat their PAC 8 League rival at home.
Bryan Rivera and Anthony Juarez scored two goals apiece for Righetti. Diego Pacheco, Alex Uribe and Myles Baro all had one.
Rene Pacheco, Aaron Lee, Miguel Pantoja, Kalin Corral, Anthony and Jose Juarez and Diego Pacheco all had an assist.
Girls wrestling (Thursday night)
LPL/PAC 8 Duals
Host Pioneer Valley went 3-0 on its Senior Night in the Panthers' gymnasium, defeating Nipomo, Righetti and Santa Maria.
Santa Maria beat Righetti and Nipomo in its first two matches. The Panthers closed by beating the Saints 54-24.
Pioneer Valley coach RD Noel said most teams did not field full squads. Ten Pioneer Valley seniors, including Magali Enriquez, Beatriz Torres, Gabby Rivas, Judith Hernandez, Yoselyn Herrera, Jennifer Espinoza, Citlali Tomas, Andrea Meza, Michelle Gonzales and Dani Rivas, were honored.
Righetti went 1-2 at the meet, with its win coming over Nipomo. Nipomo was 0-3. Lompoc, Cabrillo, San Luis Obispo and Atascadero participated in exhibition matches.
Former Pioneer Valley wrestling coach Kevin Ilac was honored at the meet. Ilac oversaw the school's wrestling program for 13 years. The theme for the evening was, "The House That Ilac Built."
Of the Pioneer Valley senior honorees, Hernandez, Herrera, Espinoza, Tomas, Gonzales and Dani Rivas all won, and all won by pin.
This story was modified to reflect Weston Hammell's points scored.