Posted On: 03/9/18 11:36 AM

The St. Anthony boys basketball team began its quest for atonement Wednesday night with a dominant 76-53 victory over Ventura Buena in the first round of the CIF State Division III Southern Regional playoffs.

The Saints (28-3) were the favorites to win the CIF Southern Section Division 3AA title before falling to eventual-champion Crean Lutheran 59-55 in the semifinals. St. Anthony moved one step closer to a potential rematch with Crean, but will need to go through Palmdale Knight on Saturday and either Washington Prep or Riverside Notre Dame to have that chance.

Here are the “Ten Best” performers from Wednesday night’s game.

Ten Best

Best Prospect: Bradley Ezewiro, St. Anthony

The 6-foot-8, 215-pounder was unstoppable when he got the ball in the paint, scoring 15 points with a handful of monster two-handed dunks. What makes the sophomore such an intriguing long-term prospect is his natural feel for the position. Ezewiro doesn’t try to do things outside his comfort zone, has soft hands, good footwork and a good motor for a guy his size.

St. Anthony F/C Bradley Ezewiro was unstoppable in the paint Wednesday night.

Best Shooter: Coby Barbar, Buena

Barbar was 2-for-6 from 3-point range on the game, and while those aren’t gaudy numbers by any stretch, it was clear that he had the purest shooting stroke in the building. There weren’t many times Buena had an open 3-point shot, but when one was coming off of the fingertips of Barbar, you knew it had a good chance of dropping.

Best Rebounder: Marquise Nelloms, St. Anthony

Nelloms is one of the longest and most active big men in SoCal and he did a ton of damage on the offensive glass. The 6-foot-6 junior finished with seven rebounds, four of the offensive variety, in limited minutes as he battled some foul trouble in the first half.

Best Versatility: Frank Staine, St. Anthony

Staine, at 6-feet-6 and 185 pounds, has shown time and time again that he’s an inside-out scoring threat, a guy who can handle it a bit on the perimeter, and someone who can rebound in and out of his space and guard multiple positions. Wednesday was no different. The junior used his size and strength advantages to score 10 points and grab six rebounds.

Best Motor: Noah Nickel, St. Anthony

There’s never a moment when you can question if Nickel is playing hard. The 5-foot-10 senior guard is a ball-hawking defender for 94-feet and is the catalyst behind St. Anthony’s blurring tempo.

Best Floor General: Cacoa Chatman, St. Anthony

Chatman seems to be the calming presence of the St. Anthony guards. The Saints play at breakneck speed, but if there is a time coach Allen Caveness wants the ball backed out and a set run, Chatman is the guy to get everyone on the same page and initiate the offense.

Best Bench Performance(s): Gorden Boykins and Josh Belvin, St. Anthony

Both Boykins and Belvin provided huge lifts off the bench for St. Anthony. Boykins, a sophomore, scored all 11 of his points in the third quarter to help the Saints separate from Buena for good and Belvin, a junior, finished with 13 points.

Best Under-the-Radar Prospect: Devin Cole, Buena

Cole was the main focus of the St. Anthony defense and the Saints did a very nice job bottling him up. While Cole may not have had his best outing, it was clear he possessed a high-level feel for the game with some of the lanes he attacked, shots he made and passes he dished to teammates.

Best Speed: Tito Mendez, Buena

Buena’s point guard displayed impressive top-end speed in transition and stop-and-go ability in the half-court setting. It was difficult for the St. Anthony guards to keep him in front and he got into the paint and put pressure on the rim countless times throughout the game.