For a half it looked like the No. 4-seeded Carmel High School boys’ basketball team might pull of an upset in Division IV of the Central Coast Section playoffs.
But top-seeded Sacred Heart Prep showed up in the third quarter and the Padres still don’t know what hit them.
The Gators erased a four-point halftime deficit and rolled to a 79-38 win Tuesday night at Menlo School, advancing to Friday’s Division IV championship game in the process.
But for the first 16 minutes, it looked like the Gators (24-2) were in deep trouble. Out of sync for the entire half, the Gators went into the locker room down 21-17 at the break.
“We don’t see a lot of 1-3-1 [zone], so it took us some time to adjust to it,” Sacred Heart Prep coach Tony Martinelli said. “It shouldn’t have taken us until the second half, that was too long.”
But when the Gators came back form the intermission, they did so with avengeance, opening the third quarter with a 7-0 run in the opening minute. By the time the quarter had ended, the Gators had hustled, rebounded, stolen, trapped and shot their way to a 35-point quarter and a 52-35 lead.
“It helped to start hitting our shots,” Martinelli said. “But we started attacking them and playing our game.”
The final eight minutes were more of the same as the Gators outscored the Padres 26-4 in what was a very physical second half, with the Gators dealing out most of the punishment on the floor as well as on the scoreboard.
Will McConnell and Cole McConnell each scored 18 points to lead the Gators, while Cal Baloff added 13. The trio had only scored eight points in the first half combined.
Carmel was led by Kyle Peerless (16 points) and Devin Pearson (10), but the pair only scored nine points in the second half and got little support from their teammates in the final 16 minutes.
Sacred Heart Prep will face No. 2 Santa Cruz on Friday at 4:45 p.m. at Santa Clara University for the CCS crown. Santa Cruz rolled over Palma 76-52 in the first game of the evening played at Menlo on Tuesday.