If you’re looking for an interesting, early-season boys’ basketball matchup, head over the Burlingame Friday and take in the Burlingame Lions Club Invitational championship game beginning at 7:30 p.m.
There you will see the Peninsula Athletic League North Division favorite, Half Moon Bay, take on PAL South Division power Burlingame — two teams you can expect to possibly see in the PAL tournament championship game.
Half Moon Bay advanced with a tough 65-62 win over Menlo-Atherton, while Burlingame cruised past Valley Christian 50-33.
The Panthers were not particularly awe-inspiring offensively Thursday night, shooting a paltry 30 percent from the field.
The difference, however, was on the defensive end as Burlingame held the Warriors to just 24 percent shooting. The Panthers limited Valley Christian to just 12 field goals and dominated the boards in the first half as they built up a 32-15 lead at halftime.
Valley Christian did a better job rebounding in the second half, and while it never appeared Burlingame was going to blow the Warriors out of the water, every time one looked at the scoreboard, Burlingame was stretching out its lead.
Burlingame point guard Frankie Ferrari had an off-night shooting, finishing with just seven points, but he did pull down a half dozen rebounds and finished with 10 assists.
Picking up the slack on the perimeter was Justin Gutang, who finished with a game-high 18 points.
Center Nick Loew also struggled from the field, but he did manage to score 14, with eight of those points coming from the free throw line. He did pull down 20 rebounds to limit Valley Christian’s second-chance opportunities.
This game was all but over in the first quarter as Burlingame (4-0 overall) scored the first 14 points of the game. Gutang knocked down a 3-pointer to get the party started before Loew took over in the post. He scored seven of his 14 points in the opening four-plus minutes.
Valley Christian (1-1) finally got on the board at the 2:47 mark as Randy Cruzet converted a three-point play. Elias Haile added an and-one of his own and the Warriors were down 14-6 with 2:10 remaining in the first quarter.
That would be as close as the Warriors would get. The Panthers responded with a 6-2 run to close the period and led 20-8 after one quarter.
Burlingame struggled mightily to even get a shot off in the second quarter, finishing with just eight attempts. Valley Christian came up with six steals and forced a pair of Burlingame turnovers in the period, but the Warriors could not capitalize.
Leading by just 11 with 1:37 to play, the Panthers closed with a vengeance, scoring the final six points of the half to hold at 32-15 lead at halftime.
Valley Christian started the third quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the Burlingame lead back to 11, 32-21, and when Tre McCloud scored on a putback with 5:09 left in the third, Valley Christian was down just 10, 33-23.
The Warriors managed only three points the rest of the quarter, however, while the Panthers finished on a 10-3 run to push their lead to 43-26 heading into the final eight minutes of play.
The fourth quarter was just about finishing up the game healthy and as such, the court was filled with backups for most of the period.
Half Moon Bay 65, Menlo-Atherton 62
Half Moon Bay shooting guard Corey Cilia scored just nine points for the Cougars, but it was his 3-pointer with under two minutes to play that gave the Cougars the breathing room it needed to hold off a strong Menlo-Atherton squad.
Half Moon Bay (4-0) was led by center Rico Nuno for the second game in a row as the senior finished with 18 points and seven rebounds. Case Dufrane added 10 points in the win.
Menlo-Atherton was paced by shooting guard Royce Branning, who torched the Cougars to the tune of 29 points, knocking down six 3-pointers in the process. In all, the Bears hit 10 3s.
Half Moon Bay led most of the way in this one, but was never able to pull away from the Bears. M-A got off to a 3-0 lead on Branning’s first 3 of the game, but when Tommy Nuno converted a fastbreak layup, it put the Cougars ahead for good, 4-3.
M-A stayed within striking distance all game long, but the Bears never could get over the hump.
Half Moon Bay led 17-16 after the first period and 31-28 at halftime. The Cougars outscored the Bears 22-17 in the third quarter to lead 53-47 going into the final eight minutes.
They needed every one of those points as M-A outscored Half Moon Bay 17-12 in the fourth quarter. Down 57-50 with 4:08 to play, the Bears hit back-to-back 3s — the first from Markus Guegler and the second from Ryan Roberts — to cut the M-A deficit to one, 57-56.
After a free throw from Rico Nuno and Cilia’s 3 that pushed the Cougars lead back 61-56, Roberts drained another 3 with under a minute to play to pull the Bears to 61-59.
Rico Nuno hit a pair of free throws to push the lead back to four, 63-59, but the Bears responded with three free throws from Branning with 11 seconds to play. Cilia hit a pair of free throws with nine seconds left and the Bears had one last look.
They worked Branning free and he got a decent look at the shot, but his 3-point attempt was heavy, hitting off the back iron and caroming away as the final horn sounded.