By Richard Paolinelli
As the winter sports postseason winds down to its finals days in the Central Coast Section, there was a cornucopia of good, bad, and ugly highlights along the way.
Very rarely does a 16th-seeded team go very deep into the playoffs, so when a Cinderella team does go on a magical run, it is a very good thing indeed.
Enter the Gonzales Spartans boys soccer team, which completed an amazing run through the postseason to capture a Division II Section championship Friday with a 3-1 win over Palo Alto, a 15th-seeded team which was writing its own fairy tale story until the Spartans spoiled the ending.
In the Division I boys soccer finals, No. 4-ranked Gilroy knocked off No. 1 Lincoln 2-0 on Tuesday then defeated No. 2 Bellarmine by the same score on Friday to capture the section championship.
Two of the three Girls section title games went to double-overtime before deciding their champions, with Los Altos taking the Division I crown 1-0 over Monte Vista and Santa Cruz claiming the Division III title with a 1-0 win over Scotts Valley. Extra time was becoming old habit for Santa Cruz, who survived a four-overtime thriller on Wednesday in a 5-4 win over Woodside Priory.
Both Burlingame and St. Ignatius High Schools saw their boys and girls basketball teams advance to the Division III semifinals with wins on Saturday, where both schools will face each other in Wednesday's semifinal games for the right to advance to their respective section championship games.
It should make for an interesting couple of days on each campus as the two schools enjoy a mini-rivalry, definitely a good thing.
Although the ending wasn't so great, the coaching career of Milpitas High boys basketball coach Steve Cain was nothing but good. Cain compiled a record of 669 wins against 294 losses in his 38-year coaching career and is the winningest coach in the section's history.
Unfortunately for Cain, his career ended on a slightly sour note Saturday as Bellarmine edged Milpitas, 49-43, to advance to the Division I finals.
No one expected Seaside's boys basketball team to fare well this year after losing some very talented players from its 2006 team. But the Spartans went undefeated in Monterey Bay League play this year and easily dispatched Willow Glen in an opening round game of the Division III playoffs.
Unfortunately, Seaside didn't answer the bell in the second round, falling behind by 20 points at halftime, and by as many as 25 in the second half, before falling to Burlingame.
Serra High opened the playoffs in search of a fourth-straight Boys Division II section title with a solid 66-34 win over Los Altos in the opening round.
But the Padres may have been caught looking ahead to a fourth meeting of the season against rival Mitty High when they met a Peninsula Athletic League buzzsaw in Mills High.
Mills stunned No. 2 Serra, 54-51, to advance to an all-PAL semifinal Tuesday and unceremoniously ended the Padres three-year reign as section champions.
On the scoreboard it didn't get any uglier than No. 1 Pinewood's 88-10 rout of Calvary Chapel in Saturday's Girls Division V quarterfinal playoff game.
But on the court, the aftermath of the Hillsdale-Pioneer opening round game of the boys Division III playoffs ranked as the ugliest moment of the postseason so far.
Moments after Hillsdale had defeated Pioneer 58-54 at Pioneer High Wednesday, a brief scuffle broke out while the two teams were shaking hands.
It appears no serious damage was done - proving that basketball players never make for good pugilists - the incident was an ugly display of poor sportsmanship.