Top area prep basketball teams take aim at state title 

As far as the Burlingame High School boys’ basketball team is concerned, history has repeated itself more than enough.

For the second straight year, the Panthers fell to Sacred Heart Cathedral in the Central Coast Section’s Division III championship, a 41-32 loss Saturday. And the Panthers (26-4) are hoping to avoid last year’s fate in the Northern California bracket of the CIF State Championships, where they fell on the road to Miramonte by six points in the opening round in 2010.

Burlingame will host its opening-round game this year, a 7 p.m. tipoff on Tuesday against Weston Ranch (26-3) of Stockton.

“We want to avoid repeating last year,” Burlingame coach Jeff Dowd said. “One more win this year and we’d set a new school record. We really want to do that and get past the first round this year.”

The Panthers very nearly got the record on Saturday after taking a three-point lead at halftime against Sacred Heart Cathedral and trailed by just three going into the final eight minutes.

“Their length and athleticism really bothered us,” Dowd said. “They blocked a lot of our shots and we could couldn’t get anything going from the outside.”

Zach Grotz led the Panthers with 15 points on Saturday and figures to be pivotal to Burlingame’s hopes to get past Weston Ranch and advance to the second round on Thursday.

The team that beat Burlingame, Sacred Heart Cathedral, earned a first-round bye in Division III and kicks off its quest for a state crown at home on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. against the Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland)-Foothill (Sacramento) winner.

“You never know this time of year, because it’s one-and-done,” Sacred Heart coach Darrell Barbour said after the Irish’s win over Burlingame on Saturday. “We’re going to lace ’em up, play our heart out and hope we can play again.”

Academic Athletic Association runner-up Mission is the final area school competing in Division III, as the Bears travel to El Cerrito on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

As for other local boys’ teams who qualified for the state playoffs, AAA champion Washington will hit the road to take on CCS champ Santa Teresa (San Jose) in Division I action Tuesday at 7 p.m. Serra fell just short against Santa Teresa, a 46-44 loss in the CCS title game, and will host Franklin (Elk Grove) on Tuesday.

In Division IV, Sacred Heart Prep pulled away from Santa Cruz late for a 61-51 victory in the CCS championship.

The win allows the Gators (25-2) to enjoy a first-round bye and they will host the winner of Tuesday’s game between Amador (Sutter Creek) and St. Patrick-St. Vincent (Vallejo) in a second-round game on Thursday night.

In Division V, University earned a first-round bye despite being handled in the North Coast Section title game by St. Joseph (Alameda). The Red Devils  play the winner of the Liberty Christian (Redding)-Valley Christian (Roseville) on Thursday.

On the girls’ side, both AAA finalists Lowell and Washington will be in action Tuesday. Lowell hosts Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills) at Kezar Pavilion, while Washington travels to Oakland Tech.

Both St. Ignatius and Sacred Heart Cathedral will represent the West Catholic Athletic League in Division III. As the CCS champ, SHC earned a first-round bye and awaits the winner of the Campolindo (Moraga)-Christian Brothers (Sacramento) contest on Thursday. St. Ignatius hosts El Dorado (Placerville) on Tuesday with the right to meet top-seeded Bishop O’Dowd on Thursday.

In Division IV, Notre Dame (Belmont) overcame a huge rebounding disadvantage in the CCS championship to pull out a 33-29 upset of No. 1 Scotts Valley over this past week. Emily Morris led the way with 15 points to help Notre Dame earn a first-round bye before hosting either Lassen (Susanville) or Colfax on Thursday at 7 p.m.

Rounding out the field, Convent of the Sacred Heart will make the long trek to Stockton for Division V action on Tuesday against Brookside Christian.

Staff Writer Dylan Kruse and correspondent Jeremy Balan contributed to this report.

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