Nathan Mollat/Daily JOurnal
Sacred Heart Prep’s Corbin Koch passes out of a triple team along the baseline during the Gators’ 62-45 win over Palma in a CCS Division IV semifinal game Tuesday night.
After a helter-skelter first half during which neither team could find much of a rhythm, the Sacred Heart Prep boys’ basketball team finally found its groove in the second half.
The Gators drowned Palma over the third and fourth quarters, raining in seven 3-pointers to pull away from the Chieftains 62-45 in a Central Coast Section Division IV semifinal game at Menlo School Tuesday night.
“It was just a struggle to get anything going (in the first half),” said SHP coach Tony Martinelli. “The confidence [we] had (in the third quarter), that got us going.”
So did the play of shooting guard Corbin Koch, who finished with a game-high 22 points — 17 of which came in the second half.
“What’s great about him, he never forces the issue,” Martinelli said of Koch. “The second half, he let the game come to him.”
Koch agreed with that assessment.
“It was just (about) settling down (in the second half),” Koch said. “I have to let things come to me.”
Koch quickly heated up in the third quarter after SHP (19-7) held a 27-22 lead at halftime. He drained the first of his back-to-back-to-back 3s to start the second half, giving him nine points less than four minutes into the second half after scoring just five points in the first two quarters.
The rest of the Gators fed off of that. All 15 of the SHP’s third-quarter points came via the 3-ball. Mason Randall — who finished with 18 points, draining five 3s in the process — added two more treys as the Gators led 42-33 going into the final quarter.
Ryan Galvin hit the Gators’ six 3-pointer of the second half to open the fourth quarter before Koch took his game inside. He knocked down a pair of free throws, slashed to the basket for a layup and hit his third straight bucket to put the Gators up 51-36 with 5:36 to play. His driving layup with 3:20 left was Koch’s final points of the game as he finished the second half 6 of 8 shooting from the floor.
“The second half was really what we needed,” Martinelli said. “They gave him (Koch) a little space and he was knocking them down.”
To say the game got off to a slow start would do a disservice to slow starts. It took nearly three minutes for either team to score with Koch finally breaking the seal by hitting a pair of free throws.
Palma (16-10) got a free throw from Jacob Regester to finally get on the board and Peter Lucas followed that with a steal and layup. He was fouled in the process and hit the free throw for a three-point play to put the Chieftains up 4-2.
The Gators responded with a 8-0 run to go up 10-4 with 2:16 left in the opening quarter and led 17-12 after one following Galvin’s driving layup.
Palma quickly tied the score, opening the second quarter with a 5-0 run. A Lucas 3 gave put the Chieftains up 22-20 with 2:47 left in the first half, but the Gators closed the half on a 7-0 run to take a five-point lead at halftime.
SHP, the top seed, will now face No. 6 Harker in the finals, which beat No. 2 Seaside 71-61 in the other semifinal. The Eagles are on a roll, going into the championship game on a five-game winning streak. They closed the regular season with wins over SHP and Pinewood before winning three straight in CCS.
“I told the kids, a lot of times you don’t get a second chance (to play a team that denied you a league title),” Martinelli said. “It makes for a real cool final.”
The Division IV championship game is Saturday, at a time and place to be determined.
Burlingame 83, Leigh 69
Panthers guard Frankie Ferrari all but cemented his status as one of the best players in program history following an out-of-this-world performance against the Longhorns in the Open Division consolation round.
Ferrari torched Leigh (23-4) for 46 points — the most by a Burlingame player since Drew Shiller dropped 45 in a first-round game of the Peninsula Athletic League tournament in 2005. In addition to his points on 17 of 27 shooting from the field, Ferrari added eight assists, eight steals and seven rebounds.
Justin Gutang added 11 points on 5 of 6 shooting and Bassel Mufarreh pulled down 10 rebounds.
Leigh was led by Kyle Morrison, who finished with 22 points.
After a normal first three quarters, the two teams combined for 63 points in the fourth quarter, as Burlingame (25-4) outscored the Longhorns 34-29 over the final eight minutes.
The Panthers will face Half Moon Bay in the consolation championship game. The Cougars beat Santa Cruz 65-46. Game time is 7 p.m. Friday at Burlingame.
Serra 58, Riordan 51
The Padres return to the CCS championship game for the fifth straight season, rallying from an 11-point halftime deficit to down the Crusaders.
Down 33-22 at halftime, the Padres allowed only three points in the third quarter.
Serra (21-7) will face Mitty (25-4) in the Open Division championship game at 8 p.m. Friday at Santa Clara University. Mitty punched their ticket to the finals with a 65-46 win over Sacred Heart Cathedral. It will be the second straight Open Division finals matchup between the two teams.