MORAGA, Calif -
There was a basketball bounty out on San Ramon Valley (Danville)
senior guard Jordan Guisti
and Amadi Udenyi
was just the man for the job.
The chiseled 5-foot-10, 185-pound
De La Salle (Concord)
junior did his best Rooster Cogburn imitation and not only held the East Bay Athletic League's Most Valuable Player without a field goal, but he scored a team-high 16 points in a 50-42 North Coast Section Division I semifinal victory at St. Mary's College on Wednesday night.
Guisti, a skilled and savvy 6-2, 180-pound point guard, burned the Spartans for 26 points in the previous meeting between the two teams, a San Ramon Valley 53-47 victory at De La Salle.
But with a CIF Northern California playoff bid on the line - the loser's season would end - Udenyi, with a lot of help from teammates, clamped down hard on Guisti who made just four free throws while missing eight consecutive contested shots.
De La Salle (24-4), a team few believed would be much more than .500 to start the season, has shown true grit all year and now plays for the NCS crown against top-seed Castro Valley, a 64-41 winner over Newark Memorial, in Friday's championship game also at St. Mary's College.
San Ramon Valley, another overachieving squad that got 17 points from 6-9 USF forward Mark Tollefsen
, finished 26-3.
"We took it personal the last time they beat us," Udenyi said. "And I took it personal because (Guisti) had such a big game. We knew the key was shutting him down. That's what we did."
The Spartans, ranked 30th in the state, played like it was very personal in the first 16 minutes in what their coach Frank Allocco called their best half of the season.
De La Salle made 10 of its first 12 shots, made 70 percent for the half while committing just one turnover. It had a commanding 33-17 lead.
"It was our best half of the season and we picked a good time to do it," Allocco said.
They needed all the good play because the Wolves clawed back eventually, behind a couple 3-pointers from Tollefsen and some strong all-around play by Bryan Marvin
(11 points) and highly athletic reserve Austin Holliday
A dunk by Holliday after a nice feed from Guisti cut the lead to 44-40 with 2:35 to play.
But that's as close as the Wolves would get. De La Salle made eight of nine free throws down the stretch and got a key 3-pointer from Udenyi to pull out the victory.
A charge call on what looked like a possible Guisti 3-point play was also key, but it simply wasn't the talented senior's night.
"They did a real good job of containing Jordan," Tollefsen said. "They had two guys on him all the time and we didn't pick up enough slack. When he's driving and making shots it just opens everything else up for us.
"It was a real tough game and a great season for us. Honestly, when we started the season I didn't know if we were going to win more than half our games. It's hard to complain with 26 wins."
Allocco, who has led the Spartans to two state championships and coached three overall (one with Northgate), said no De La Salle team has overachieved as much as this one.
"They just have some much grit and energy and determination," he said. "I couldn't be prouder of a group." Travis Pacos
, the team's leading scorer, tallied De La Salle's first seven points and finished with 11 points. Teammates Benny Battle
and Duke DaRe
combined for 14. BAY AREA REPORT
On a night when almost all games went as seeded, one giant
upset prevailed in regional playoff basketball action on Wednesday night.
Little-regarded and fifth seed San Marin (Novato) (28-4) and
its highly-regarded 6-foot-7 post Stuart Wesonga stunned defending Northern
California Division III champion and visiting Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland) 51-46.
The Northridge-bound Wesonga had 26 points, 25 rebounds and
seven blocks, including four against O’Dowd’s highly-touted Brandon Ashley (21
points, 13 rebounds). O’Dowd is 22-6.
Both teams already qualified for the CIF Northern California
playoffs, but San Marin will play for the NCS title Saturday against No. 2 seed
El Cerrito, a 63-52 winner over Analy-Sabastopol.
"Is there any doubt this kid is one of the top players in the Bay Area who nobody talks about," San Marin coach Craig Pittl told Harold Abend of sfgate.com.
San Marin fought back from a 24-12 deficit and used a 15-3 run to close to 29-27. A 3-pointer by Chris Glennon (12 points) gave San Marin the lead for good, 45-44, with 2:49 left. A Wesonga putback over Ashley with 35 seconds left helped seal it.
More NCS: In Division IV semifinal play at Albany High School, Salesian (Richmond) Jabari Bird had 19 points and nine rebounds, Jermaine Edmonds added 10 points and Dominic Artis and Mario Dunn had nine points each in a 67-55 win over St. Patrick/St. Vincent. ... In Division V play, sophomore Will Carroll had 19 points, seniors Noah Springwater 13, Matt Scheider 11 and Zio Enriquez 10 leading second-seed University (San Francisco) (26-5) to a 70-51 win over Head Royce. Marcus Byrde had 20 points and Ryan Isono 17 for Head Royce (21-7). SFS: At Kezar, Brenden
Glapion had 23 points and Jeremy Jetton 12 as Washington (San Francisco) (22-9) moved into the
San Francisco Section title game for the first time since 1986 with a 60-48 win
over Lowell (23-10), which got a combined 23 points from Byron Robinson and
Thomas Kroner. … Gione Edwards had 17 points and Antione Parker 14 as defending
champion Mission (San Francisco) (23-9) scored a 69-66 win over Wallenberg (14-13), which got
17 from Ronnie Campbell.
CCS boys: In
Division III semifinal play at St. Ignatius, Rodrigo Puliceno had 15 points and
11 rebounds as third-seed Burlingame (26-3) won its 16th straight
game and avenged an earlier loss to St. Ignatius with a thorough 68-56 victory.
Johnny Mrlick had 16 points for St. Ignatius (17-10). … Burlingame will play
top-seed Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco), a 73-48 winner over Aptos, in Saturday’s
championship at Santa Clara University. The Irish (22-6) led just 34-31 at
halftime but got a combined 30 points from Josh Fox and Taylor Johns.
CCS girls: In
Division III girls play at Aptos High, top-seed St. Ignatius (22-6) survived a
38-point explosion from Terra Nova-Pacifica's Ivonne Cook Taylor in a 89-70
semifinal win. Alex Legarza had 24 points and 11 rebounds, Courtney Gong 21 and
Kaitlyn Crawley 16 for St. Ignatius, which now plays second-seed Sacred Heart
Cathedral (15-12), a 50-36 winner over Valley Christian. Four players,
including T.J. Miller and Geena Giovannetti, scored eight points for the Irish
which opened the game on a 14-2 run.