Pabalate scores 30 to lead St. Bernard’s in opener

Lito Pabalate’s St. Bernard’s debut is one he won’t easily forget.

The senior transfer scored a game-high 30 points to lead the Crusaders to a 73-65 win over McKinleyville on Tuesday, as St. Bernard’s opened an abbreviated H-DNL boys basketball season.

“He’s a great floor general, a great floor leader,” head coach Issac Gildea said of the point guard. 

The win was also the first with the team for the head coach, who takes over this year from St. Bernard’s legend and long-time program head coach Steve Thrap.

And while Gildea knows his team is still a work in process this early in the season, he likes a lot of what he’s seen from the players so far.

“It was the first game, and we’re just trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t, and move forward,” he said. “But I’ve got a lot of talent on the team.”

Gildea has a roster of 13, including a couple of JV players who will go back and forth, as well as five seniors, all of whom are expected to have a big impact over the next few weeks.

In addition to Pabalate, Bode Joyner, Remy Campbell, Octavio Romo and Micah Duncan round out the talented class.

Big things are also expected out of sophomore Owen Shanahan.

“Our five seniors are really strong, and of course Owen is a great player,” Gildea said. “We have a strong nucleus, a strong core.”

And it’s a nucleus that wants to win.

“We show up and we compete,” Gildea said. “They’re highly competitive at practice with each other and they want to win.”

And like their head coach, they’re just happy to be back on the court after such a long shutdown.

“I’m just excited to be coaching,” Gildea said. “And I’ve got some nice kids, and they’re fun to be around.”

Junior Drew Vizenor is also expected to play a big role this season and got the campaign off to a good start on Tuesday, scoring 17 points in the win.

“He’s lightning in a bottle,” Gildea said of Vizenor. “He can explode any time offensively and he’s a really smart basketball player.”

Shanahan added seven points in the win.

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