APTOS—Anwar Ayyad had the hot hand for the No. 7 seed Aptos High as the Mariners defeated No. 10 Sobrato High, 54-42, in the opening round of the Central Coast Section Division III boys basketball playoffs Saturday night.
The senior forward caught fire at the right time by scoring 13 points in the fourth quarter, including back-to-back 3-pointers and a steal that led to a layup. Ayyad finished with a career-high 28 points and six 3-pointers to go along with eight rebounds and five steals.
“We came out as a team. We played together, executed together and did everything right together,” he said. “The final outcome of that is us winning.”
Aptos bounced back after a tough 1-point loss against Soquel High in the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League “A” Division Tournament semifinals.
Mariners junior Cameron Saldana had 15 points, four assists and three steals, while senior guard JoJoe Moreno added seven points, including a 3-point bucket just as time expired in the second quarter.
Moreno played outstanding defense against the opposing guards, preventing them from driving to the hoop.
Mariners coach Brian Bowyer believed it was the defense that made the difference in the game. He said the offense was playing just as well, but the shots weren’t falling in as he hoped for.
Because of the missed shots, the Bulldogs were able to keep it tight. A 6-0 run to start the fourth quarter gave them their first and only lead of the game at 31-30.
Sobrato coach Sean Tate said during that final stretch they were valuing possessions and didn’t turn the ball over. He added that the defense switched to man coverage, which allowed them to grab rebounds on missed shots.
“When you’re not giving the ball away you’re giving yourself a chance to score,” he said.
Sobrato junior forward Marc DiFrancesco scored a team-high 13 points, and junior guard Andrew Zorio added 10 points.
Tate said they’re a young team and this year’s postseason run was just about getting their feet wet.
“We were on house money,” he said. “We were really looking forward just to this game for the experience purpose and to play Aptos, it couldn’t come any better.”
Tate said they’ve had a good rivalry with the Mariners after having split the past six games. He said that each game has been a dogfight.
“It’s the personnel,” he said. “We have kids who work hard and know how to play so it’s just a really good matchup.”
Ayyad said the Mariners committed several mistakes but they were able to fix those issues. He also credited the defense for shutting the door late.
The Mariners play at No. 2 Burlingame High (8-4) in the quarterfinals on Tuesday at 7pm. Bowyer told the team that everything from here on out is gravy and they have to win or else go home.
“We’re just going to go out and play our hardest, they’re just happy to still have a couple of days together,” he said. “If we win, we win and we’ll be happy. If not, we lose and it’s over…We’re playing basketball, which we didn’t even think was going to happen a couple of months ago.”
Los Gatos 81, Watsonville 39: Isaac Fernandez made three of the Wildcatz’s seven 3-pointers in a loss against the No. 10 Wildcats in the first round of the CCS D-I playoffs on Friday.
The senior guard finished with a team-high nine points for Watsonville, which made its first postseason appearance since 2017.
Wildcatz junior guard Richie Ortiz also scored nine points, while senior Donovan Mendoza scored eight points for the Wildcatz, who finished with an 8-5 record.
Harker 74, at Monte Vista Christian 67: Senior guard Teddy Moore finished with a career-high 35 points for the No. 8 Mustangs in a loss against No. 9 Eagles in the first round of the D-IV playoffs on Friday.
Nathan Bachman contributed 10 points and Carson Leal had eight points for MVC, which finished with a 6-11 record this season.
At Notre Dame-Belmont 54, MVC 39: The Mustangs lost to No. 2 seed Notre Dame-Belmont 53-39 in the D-IV quarterfinals on Monday.
The No. 7 Mustangs finished with a 7-11 record this season.
At MVC 61, Latino College Prep 6: Junior guard Paloma Ramirez scored a career-high 27 points for the Mustangs in a win against the No. 10 Eagle Warriors in their CCS Division IV first-round game Saturday.
Ramirez scored 12 points in the first quarter for MVC, which had a 36-3 going into halftime.
Makayla Rader, a freshman, scored 12 points and sophomore forward Sofia Duran scored eight points for the Mustangs.