Playing at home for the first time since its season opener, Archbishop Mitty elevated its game to a higher level Friday night -- much, much higher.
In a matchup between the top two teams in the Mercury News boys basketball rankings, the No. 1 Monarchs scored the first 17 points and didn't allow a field goal until the third minute of the second quarter as they rolled over St. Ignatius 71-43.
Brandon Farrell led Mitty with 20 points, and Aaron Gordon added 14.
"We picked it up defensively," Gordon said. "That's what we wanted to do. That's what we've been stressing in practice, and finally we came through."
The victory came two days after Mitty narrowly escaped Bellarmine College Prep with a victory and two weeks after the Monarchs were on the losing end of a blowout in a much anticipated nonleague game against Salesian of Richmond.
Mitty (8-3, 2-0 West Catholic Athletic League) has won five of six since the Salesian game, with its only loss coming to Jesuit of Portland, Ore.
"Every game we've got to come out with our best or we're going to get ran," Gordon said.
The outcome Friday was never in doubt as the 6-foot-8 Gordon, who is seeking to lead the Monarchs to a third consecutive state title to finish his career, scored on a lob in the opening minute, and Farrell soon began piling up points near the basket.
The 6-6 Farrell, who had been slowed by an ankle injury, scored 11 points in the first quarter and had 16 at halftime as Mitty opened a 40-19 cushion.
"He's coming back from that ankle injury, and he's just being more aggressive," Mitty coach Tim Kennedy said.
But defense is what made it an easy night for the Monarchs as St. Ignatius (10-2, 1-1) suffered its first loss since Westmoor beat the Wildcats by a point in early December.
"That first quarter was probably the best we've been defensively in a while," Kennedy said. "This was kind of a steppingstone in the right direction with how our defense needs to be at if we want to contend for a championship."
Piedmont Hills 54, Willow Glen 51: The Pirates built a 17-point lead after three quarters and then held on to hand Willow Glen its first loss of the season.
Piedmont Hills (10-2, 2-0 Blossom Valley Athletic League Mount Hamilton) took control late in the second quarter, closing the first half on an 11-0 run to go up 26-17 at halftime. JJ Espanola keyed that run, scoring eight points and making two 3-pointers.
The Pirates went on a 12-2 run to close the third quarter and looked to be in complete command, leading 45-28 entering the fourth. But Taylor Meeker scored 18 of his 24 points in the final quarter as Willow Glen (11-1, 1-1) closed to within 51-49 with 1:38 left.
Espanola and Walter Bateast scored 21 points apiece for the Pirates. Bateast played with goggles after suffering a scratched cornea Wednesday against Santa Teresa.
"Bateast is a beast," Piedmont Hills coach Pete Simos said. "He has all the heart in the world. He was in the hospital for six hours (Thursday) getting his eye checked out."
Willow Glen's Meeker was also coming off an injury, a dislocated shoulder that caused him to miss his team's league opener against Independence.
"It took him three quarters to realize his shoulder was OK," said Willow Glen coach and father Todd Meeker, Taylor's father.
Willow Glen gave Piedmont Hills its first loss last season after the Pirates got off to a 19-0 start. Piedmont Hills returned the favor Friday.
"We both have 12 more games in league," Meeker said. "I viewed this game as a measuring stick. We didn't win, but we did a good job of not giving up."
Serra 73, St. Francis 62: Henry Caruso scored 23 points and Jacqui Biggins contributed 19 to lead Serra to a victory at St. Francis. The fifth-ranked Padres, who lost their WCAL opener Wednesday against Sacred Heart Cathedral, broke open the game Friday in the third quarter, stretching an eight-point halftime lead to 18.
Lynbrook 44, Wilcox 36: Fifth-ranked Lynbrook sent No. 4 Wilcox to its first loss this season as Jackie Hudepohl led the Vikings with 17 points. Joesetta Fatuesi scored 16 points for Wilcox (13-1, 1-1). Lynbrook improved to 11-2, 1-0.
Menlo School 73, Harker 35: Drew Edelman scored 25 points and Maddy Price had 16 points and 20 rebounds to propel Menlo School to the victory. The Knights led by 14 at halftime and extended their lead to 28 after three quarters.
Staff writer Glenn Reeves contributed to this report.