Mountain View High boys basketball coach Kevin Mack said he warned his players that Saturday’s second-round playoff game against Evergreen Valley wouldn’t be like the regular-season meeting between the teams, which his Spartans won by 18 points.
He was right.
Although host Mountain View won by a similar margin, 65-49, the fifth-seeded Spartans (12-5) briefly fell behind midway through the third quarter. They weren’t able to pull away from the No. 12 Cougars (5-11) until the final few minutes of the Central Coast Section Division I contest.
“They only scored 49, but it felt like more than that,” Mack said. “They never went away.”
Mountain View, off to an 8-0 start and ahead by as many as 11 points in the first half, found itself clinging to a 53-49 lead after Evergreen’s Rahul Sharma made a layin with 3:47 to play. That prompted Mack to call timeout and set up a play for Ryan Bahar. The 6-foot-2 senior aggressively took the ball to the basket, scoring from the right block to push the lead to six.
“We thought Ryan could get by his guy with his size,” Mack said. “He made a great play and gave us some momentum.”
The bucket ignited the Spartans’ 12-0 run to end the game. Bahar made half those points and finished with 11. Yuval Hod sank two free throws and converted a breakaway layup in that stretch; the senior totaled a game-high 24 points.
“Yuval has been so steady for us all year,” Mack said. “He’s a leader, and he makes plays for us when we need it.”
Joe Brown added 13 points that included a trio of 3s. The junior also made a layin off a baseline inbound lob from Bahar that enabled Mountain View to regain the lead at 33-32 with 4:10 left in the third period.
“That’s a play we’ve run a lot, and they executed it well,” Mack said.
The start of a 13-7 run to cap the quarter, the Spartans never trailed again.
Mountain View was slated to visit No. 4 Silver Creek (12-5) Tuesday, after the Town Crier’s deadline; the victor plays in Thursday’s semifinals.
Eagles’ rally not enough
Los Altos bounced back from a rough first quarter – trimming its 11-point deficit to just one by halftime – but the Eagles were never able to catch Homestead in Saturday’s Division I second-round game.
The eighth-seeded Mustangs fended off No. 9 Los Altos 67-59, thanks largely to Daniel Brathwaite. The Homestead senior scored a game-high 30 points, 19 of them coming in the second half.
“We were trying to keep him out of the lane, but we weren’t able to do that tonight,” Eagles coach Trevor Naas said. “I wish our help-side defense was a little bit better in meeting him once he got there, but he’s a really good player and he had a great game tonight.”
Los Altos junior Jake Skaggs nearly matched Brathwaite, putting up 29 points. He accounted for all four of the Eagles’ points during a first quarter in which his team shot just 2-of-17 from the field.
Ahead 15-4 entering the second, the host Mustangs pushed the lead to 14 points before Los Altos rallied. The Eagles sliced their deficit to 26-25 by intermission by not only making shots, but also rattling Homestead with a full-court press that led to seven turnovers.
“We started picking up full court, and we had some great energy and erased that deficit, so we had a new game by halftime,” Naas said. “I’m so proud of the way they battled back after that start.”
The Eagles (7-8) ended the half on an 8-0 run that featured six points from Dominic D’Augusta and then a low-post basket from Skaggs, who scored seven in the stanza.
That momentum didn’t carry into the third quarter, though; Homestead (11-8) got off to a 7-2 start that included five points from Omri Remez.
Los Altos cut the deficit to 41-40 on Andrew Reilly’s midrange shot with 1:06 left in the period, but that’s as close as the Eagles got. Brathwaite countered with a three-point play (drive and free throw) and then turned a steal into a layin to extend the Mustangs’ lead to 46-40.
Reilly’s layin with two ticks left in the third and a free throw by Nico D’Augusta almost one minute into the fourth closed the gap to three points. Brathwaite answered with another successful drive to the hoop to ignite a 6-0 run, and Homestead remained in control the rest of the way.
The Mustangs advanced to the quarterfinals, taking on No. 1 Independence (13-1) 7 p.m. Tuesday (June 8). The winner plays in Thursday's semifinals.
Other locals move on
As the top seed in Division II, St. Francis (4-8) advanced directly to the quarterfinals to face visiting No. 8 Aragon (4-8) Tuesday (June 8).
Pinewood (6-8), the No. 1 seed in Division V, hosts a semifinal at 7 p.m. Thursday; the opponent had not been determined at press time.