The St. Francis High boys basketball team saw its season end Saturday by the slimmest margin – and to a familiar foe.
The No. 2 Lancers (17-13 overall) fell 42-41 to top seed and West Catholic Athletic League rival St. Ignatius (22-6) in the Central Coast Section Division II final. St. Francis went from leading by seven to down one when Wildcats guard Tristan Wentworth made a transition layup with 1:42 left. The 42-41 lead was St. Ignatius’ first since scoring the game’s opening basket.
The Lancers’ last chance for a game-winning shot ended when forward Alex Frazier was called for traveling on a drive with 3.9 seconds left. Senior guard Brian Garrett led the Lancers with 12 points, while sophomore Noah Stapes added 11 points and a team-high eight rebounds.
Despite the loss, St. Francis coach Mike Motil said his team matured during its playoff run.
“We’ve got a team of sophomores, juniors and seniors that started to come together at the end of the year,” said Motil, whose Lancers played without Curtis Witt, their leading scorer in league. “It was great to see.”
The final was the fourth meeting this season between the WCAL rivals. Wildcats coach Tim Reardon credited the Lancers with giving his team another tough run after his team bested them twice during the regular season before losing 62-58 in the league playoffs.
“I’ve got to hand it to Mike (Motil), he made just enough little adjustments to make it very difficult for us to do what we like to do,” said Reardon, whose team shot 33 percent Saturday. “They play so much zone, that if we’re not shooting well – which we’re not – that they know they’re going to be in the game.”
Down 37-30 with 6:21 left, the Wildcats put together a 12-4 game-winning scoring stretch in little more than four minutes. Senior guard Trevor Dunbar, who led all scorers with 14 points, paced the Wildcats with six points during the run.
“I think if they’d gotten it up to 12 or 14 (points), we wouldn’t have had the offensive strength to come back and get them,” said Reardon, whose team broke through during the final stretch with a 6-0 run that culminated in Wentworth’s game-winner.
The Lancers, meanwhile, led for the bulk of the game before the Wildcats stormed back. St. Francis held a 10-point lead – its largest of the game – early in the second quarter. A near six-minute offensive dry spell, however, allowed the Wildcats to cut their lead to 19-18 at the half. The Lancers bounced back in the third, at one point going on an 8-2 run to enter the final quarter of play with a 33-28 edge.