After a back-and-forth first half, the St. Francis High boys basketball team took over Saturday’s Northern California Division II quarterfinal game in the third quarter and never relinquished control.
The top-seeded Lancers beat Burbank of Sacramento 77-68, propelled by a 20-9 run in the third.
“We had to dig deep,” said junior Logan Johnson, who scored eight of his team-high 26 points in the period. “We just tried to put our foot down on the gas as far as it could go.”
Up three at the half, host St. Francis opened the third with a 10-3 spurt. The run featured four free throws by West Catholic Athletic League Co-MVP Johnson and a scoop layup by all-league senior Jacob Mihanovic, who scored six of his 14 points in the third.
The Lancers (20-9 overall) extended their lead to 58-44 by quarter’s end after Johnson made back-to-back buckets from inside the paint, starting with a reverse layup.
“You’ve got to take what they give you, and that’s what they were giving Logan tonight,” St. Francis coach Mike Motil said of Johnson’s ability to drive on the eighth-seeded Titans (27-5). “There was no rim protector there for them. Logan stayed aggressive and attacked the rim.”
Burbank’s Isiah Davis was the only player who totaled more points than fellow guard Johnson – the senior scored 27 – but none came in the third. The Titans, who struggled to hit a shot outside the paint throughout Saturday’s game, made just two of their 11 field-goal attempts in the third.
“Our goal was to stay in front of (Davis) and make him shoot jump shots and (we wanted to) rebound the basketball,” Motil said. “I thought we did a pretty good job of doing that, obviously.”
But Davis got going in the fourth, putting up 13 points. The 6-foot-3 senior’s breakaway dunk off a steal cut Burbank’s deficit to 10 with 2:56 to play.
The Lancers – whose lead ballooned to 19 just three minutes earlier on a baseline drive by Johnson – committed seven turnovers in the quarter to help keep the Titans’ comeback hopes alive.
“That’s not who we are,” Johnson said of St. Francis’ turnovers, which numbered 17 Saturday. “We’re not going to turn the ball over a lot, but tonight I think we got a little rushed.”
After Johnson scored on an alley-oop pass from Oscar Pedraza to extend the advantage to 72-59 with 1:13 left, the Titans made one last push. They went on a 9-2 run capped by Keshawn Bruner’s 3-pointer – the team’s lone trey of the game.
The Lancers’ lead was down to 74-68 but only 23 seconds remained. Burbank was forced to foul, and Pedraza knocked down two free throws to finish with 12 points. Then Johnson stepped to the line, fouled after St. Francis rebounded an errant 3-point shot by the Titans, and split free throws with 7.7 seconds to go.
“That Burbank team is really good,” Motil said. “If they had made a couple of extra jump shots there, it would have gotten even tighter. They came at us hard there at the end.”
The coach expected another tough game Tuesday, after the Town Crier’s deadline, when St. Francis hosted No. 13 Del Oro. The Golden Eagles (18-14) upset No. 4 Bishop O’Dowd, then No. 5 San Joaquin Memorial to reach the semifs. If the Lancers won, they host Saturday’s NorCal final against No. 3 Moreau Catholic or No. 15 Cardinal Newman at 6 p.m.