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June 29, 2022

Mariners survive in a thriller to Half Moon Bay in D-III quarterfinals | CCS boys basketball

St. Francis wins D-IV opener but drops second-round game to Crystal Springs

APTOS—Aptos High senior guard Cameron Saldana was getting pressured hard by Half Moon Bay High’s defense throughout Tuesday night’s Central Coast Section Division III quarterfinals. 

Yet, he continued to find ways to score and managed to get some of his teammates involved in the action. 

Saldana finished with 13 points and six assists for the Mariners boys’ basketball team in its thrilling 45-42 win against the No. 5 seed Cougars.

“He handled HMB’s hard pressure very well all night,” said Aptos coach Brian Bowyer in an email.

With the win, the No. 4 Mariners (21-4) advanced to the semifinals in what will be a rubber match against Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League rival Santa Cruz High. Both teams finished as league co-champion and split the regular season series at one game apiece. 

The top-seeded Cardinals (20-5) are coming off a 71-56 win against No. 8 Monterey High in Tuesday’s quarterfinals.

The Mariners played in a much tighter game against the Cougars, who were tied at 11-all at the end of the first quarter. HMB hit a 3-pointer just before halftime to go up 25-23 going into the break. 

Aptos took the lead, 32-30, at the start of the final stanza. But the Cougars had a chance to take the lead late in the game.

Down by one point, 43-42, HMB had possession of the ball with 40 seconds left. Aptos’ defense came up with a huge stop and Saldana was fouled with 3.9 seconds left on the game clock. 

The standout guard made both free throw attempts and gave the Mariners a three-point lead, 45-42.  

Senior center Jack Spinelli got his hand on the inbound pass made by the Cougars and Aptos walked away with the win.

Spinelli finished with a double-double by scoring 13 points and hauling in 15 rebounds. He also added three steals and two blocks. Trevor Brady contributed nine points for the Mariners, who play at Santa Cruz High on Thursday at 7pm. 

San Lorenzo Valley 71, Terra Nova 63: The No. 5 seeded Cougars made the trip to Pacifica to stun the No. 4 Cougars on their own home court in Tuesday night’s CCS D-IV quarterfinals win. 

SLV (18-7) will play at top-seeded Palma High on Thursday at 7pm. The Chieftains are coming off a smashing 82-33 win against Design Tech High in Tuesday’s quarterfinals.

Crystal Springs 54, St. Francis 43: Kyle Dyer and Dez Litel each scored 12 points for the No. 9 seeded Sharks in their loss to the No. 8 Gryphons in the teams’ CCS D-V second round game Feb. 19.

Joseph Rose finished with nine points for St. Francis (8-13) and Christian Magana added five points.  

St. Francis 59, Anzar 55: Sophomore Joseph Rose finished with 22 points and five 3-pointers, including a late bucket from long distance that helped lift the No. 9 Sharks get past the Hawks in the teams’ CCS D-IV first round game Feb. 18. 

Rose and his teammates knew they’d be in for a battle but he didn’t expect it to go all the way down to the wire.

“We thought it wasn’t going to be as close as it was,” he said.

Max Castro had a game-high 25 points for the Hawks and he was a terror under the rim, attacking inside the paint from the start of the game. His teammate Warren Du added 11 points for Anzar.

“I was impressed, I thought [Anzar] did very well,” said St. Francis coach Duncan Edwards. “[Castro] obviously was special, he was just special.”  

Castro helped the Hawks jump out to an 11-6 lead, but Miles Guardino and the Sharks came storming back to tie the score at 11-all. Guardino finished with a team-high 24 points for St. Francis.

“Our scouting, we just knew they beat up on teams. So we did go in there, not knowing what was going on,” Guardino said. “I’ll give credit to that No. 23 [Castro], he hit shot after shot… we were a little shocked but we played really good defense, that has been our strong suit.”  

St. Francis came out much stronger in the second stanza and went on a 5-0 run. But it was also a tale of turnovers for both teams as they couldn’t seem to settle down, racking up a combined 25 turnovers. 

Guardino finally put up some points after he drove it in hard to the rim and was fouled in the process. Apart from the turnovers, the Sharks also held the Hawks scoreless until Castro made a free throw attempt with 3:06 left in the first half. 

Guardino was also handy with his passing skills with a give-and-go to fellow teammate Christian Magana for the layup. St. Francis took its largest lead of the game, 29-20, going into halftime.

Guardino had 12 points at the break, and Rose added 11 points including three 3-pointers.

“Joe [Rose] shot pretty well tonight, he made a few threes,” Edwards said. “Miles [Guardino] is just the heart and soul of the team.”

Rose continued to have the hot hand in the third quarter but the Hawks found a way to get back into the game and pulled to within two, 36-34. 

The Sharks went on a couple of quick runs to extend their lead in the fourth, yet, Anzar hung around and made it a two-point game, 52-50. 

That’s when Rose stepped in with a pair of clutch shots including a 3-pointer that sealed the deal for St. Francis.

“I was just shooting as much as I could, trying to rack up some points for my team and trying to secure the win,” he said.

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