Marcos de Niza knew St. Mary’s junior guard Jerryd Bayless was going to be a handful, even at full strength. But with star point guard Kal Bay out of the lineup, Bayless was in a class of his own.
The Knights still needed every bit of Bayless’ schoolrecord 53 points, holding off the short-handed Padres, 83-72, Tuesday night at Marcos de Niza.
The Padres were playing their first game without Bay, who was suspended by the school for the remainder of the season after he reportedly entered the stands after being taunted during a game Dec. 6.
"The kids stepped up and played hard," Marcos de Niza coach David Stark said. "Sometimes kids play better when they’re faced with a little adversity."
It was Bayless who stepped up for the Knights, however, scoring 25 second-half points to help St. Mary’s get back into the win column after falling by 14 to third-ranked Desert Vista Friday night.
"Me and Kal are close and hopefully this situation turns out alright for him," said Bayless, who tallied seven assists, seven rebounds, four steals and two blocks to go with his scoring outburst. "But I’m going to take what they give me."
Bayless said that while Desert Vista collapsed on him, forcing the 6-foot-3 guard to kick the ball out to his teammates during last week’s loss, he made certain to take advantage of any open looks Marcos de Niza was going to give him.
"If they’re giving me the shots, I’m going to take them," Bayless said.
St. Mary’s coach Dave Lopez said he doesn’t mind Bayless, who verbally committed last month to play college ball at Arizona, firing at will if he’s open, just as long as the rest of the Knights stay involved.
"He has a green light. The thing with Jerryd that we have to watch out for is that we all watch him," Lopez said of St. Mary’s coaches and players, even those on the floor with Bayless.
Marcos de Niza senior forward Mychael Broom did his best Bayless impression, posting up defenders down low and popping jumpers from outside en route to a 36-point performance.
Broom and Bayless traded buckets on multiple occasions, as Broom was able to cut the lead to three with less than a minute to go in the third quarter. But Bayless answered back, scoring five points in the final minute to extend the Knights’ lead to seven.
"We wanted Kal Bay to be there," said St. Mary’s senior Tim Johnson. "We wanted to take them at full strength, but we’ll still take the win."