Mission Prep head boys basketball coach Terrence Harris has a nickname for senior point guard Vince Ricigliano.
“I like to joke that he is the ‘Military Man’ because he is the ‘yes sir’ kind of guy,” Harris said. “He does anything and everything we ask him to do. When he forgets and you remind him, it’s ‘yes sir,’ and he’s right back to doing what he is supposed to do to help our team.”
Ricigliano could also be classified as the “Secretary of Defense” for a Royals team known more for its offense. His disruptive defense and offensive assault on the paint were keys to Mission Prep’s 80-61 win Wednesday over Cerritos in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2AA playoffs.
Ricigliano laughed when asked about his nickname.
“Harris thinks I’m a lot more serious than I really am,” he said.
There’s no denying Ricigliano was all business Wednesday. He finished with 16 points, in a game that was much closer than the score might suggest.
Mission Prep started the game on a 7-0 run led by senior Kyle Stewart’s spectacular ball handling. The Royals stretched the lead to 12 before Cerritos cut it back down to four. The Royals led 36-30 at the half.
“I was proud of the way the guys stayed focused when the game got to four points,” Harris said. “Nobody panicked, then we had some guys step up and hit some huge shots.”
Cerritos stayed within striking distance in the third quarter until senior Jake Jensen got hot. He hit three 3-point shots in a row during a stretch spanning the third and fourth quarters to put Mission Prep up 15 points. Jensen finished with a team-high 18 points. Senior Carter Gran and junior Kyle Colvin had 16 points each.
“We were really just stressing getting to the paint, being unselfish, and we really did that in the second half and down the stretch,” said Ricigliano, who was also able to stifle Cerritos point guard Byron Sur. “That’s one of my main jobs out there. I make sure to pester their point guard and make it as hard as possible for them to bring it up the court.”
Harris spoke highly of Ricigliano’s character after the game.
“He’s among the hardest working and most respectful kids I have ever coached in my life,” Harris said. “That kid has a heart of gold, and this team is better not just because of his play but for having him in our locker room.”
Ricigliano said he knows it’s only going to get harder from here on out and said with the offense rolling, the Royals defensive intensity will be the key to making past the second round.
The No. 7-ranked Royals will travel to play Upland at 7 p.m. Friday No. 11 Upland beat Valencia 67-53 on Wednesday night.