South San Francisco was determined to stop Aptos’s leading scorer, sophomore guard Hannah Hocom.
But her teammates made the Warriors pay.
Senior guard Teal Maxiner scored 18 points, freshman guard Gabby Giuffre added 17 and the No. 5-seeded Mariners knocked off top-seeded South San Francisco, 58-50, on Wednesday night in San Jose to advance to the Central Coast Section Division III championship game. It will be their first section final appearance since 2001.
The Mariners (25-4) — second-place finishers in the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League — trailed by 12 at the half but came out of the intermission in a full-court press defense and turned the tide quickly, taking the lead in the third quarter and holding off the Warriors (24-5) late.
“I just told them ‘we’ve had a great season, you’re winners no matter what happens out there, but if you don’t want to go home then I need everything from you right now. We’re gonna go into the press and we’re either gonna win this or you’re going to fight until you drop’” said Aptos head coach Stefan Hocom, Hannah’s father.
Aptos will meet a familiar opponent in the championship game on Saturday at Santa Clara High, as Soquel, the SCCAL champion and No. 2 seed in the bracket, beat No. 6 Sobrato, 73-50, to advance.
The two teams, which have already met three times this season, are set for a 1 p.m. start.
Freshman center Natalia Ackerman had 11 points and Hocom finished with seven.
St. Francis 56, Stevenson 37
The No. 2-seeded St. Francis Sharks will have a shot at their fourth CCS championship in the last five years after beating No. 3 Stevenson, 56-37, on Wednesday night in the D-V semifinals in Pacifica.
Junior guard Janiya Sevilla had 15 points and Chloe Delessigues added 13 for the Sharks (15-9), which will play the top-seeded Priory Panthers on Friday night at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont at 6 p.m.
Priory (16-9), which beat the Sharks last year in the CCS D-V semifinals, has allowed only 21 points over its two CCS playoff games.