Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
Aragon’s Alex Manu splits a pair of Aptos defenders on his way to the basket during the Dons’ 94-93, triple-overtime win in the CCS Division III semifinals.
LOS ALTOS HILLS — When Aragon’s Kevin Hahn hauled in a long pass near midcourt and ran off the final three seconds, the Dons’ boys’ basketball team was exhausted, but ultimately thrilled.
Hahn’s catch capped a wild 94-93 win over Aptos in triple overtime in the Central Coast Section Division III semifinals at Foothill College Wednesday night.
“This is the craziest game I’ve ever been involved in,” said Hahn, who scored 21 points and pulled down eight rebounds. “We knew they were a good team. You don’t get to this point of the season and not be a good team.”
Hahn, who scored 13 points in the first quarter alone, did not score again until the second overtime. But in the second and third overtimes, he led the Dons with 10 points.
None of his points were bigger, however, than the shot he made with 32 seconds left in the third overtime and the Dons trailing 93-92. From about 15 feet from the basket, he leaned between a pair of Mariner defenders and launched a one-footed, flat-trajectory shot that scraped the back of the rim as it slid through the net to put Aragon up 94-93.
Aptos had a couple of chances to win it, however. The Mariners’ first attempt was short, but 6-8 forward/center Cole Welle grabbed the rebound and was fouled going up for his shot.
Welle, however, was battling legs cramps late in regulation and all through overtime. His legs were shot and it was evident when he left his first free throw attempt short. His second one was short as well and Aragon’s Kono Filimoehala-Egan grabbed the rebound and was pushed out of bounds.
After a moment of confusion, the Dons were awarded possession, Hahn made the catch and the Dons advanced to their first CCS championship since a 77-61 loss to Palo Alto in 2003.
Aragon (19-9), the No. 3 seed, will face No. 5 Valley Christian (9-19), which wore down Hillsdale 61-40 in the other semifinal game. The Division III final is at 4 p.m. at Santa Clara University Saturday.
Aragon trailed 52-49 going into the fourth quarter, but took a 69-67 lead on a pair of Toby Liebergesell free throws with 39 seconds in regulation. Liebergesell finished with a game-high 31 points.
Second-seeded Aptos (22-6) tied the game at 69 on a Luke Rossi putback with 23 seconds to send the game into overtime.
The Mariners scored the first two baskets of the first overtime period to go up 73-69. The Dons trailed 74-72 after Aptos made one of two free throws with 17 seconds left, but Alex Manu — who missed most of the second and third overtime periods with cramps of his own — received a pass on the baseline and muscled his way up for a layup with seven seconds left to force a second overtime period.
The two teams went back and forth in the second overtime, making one unbelievable shot after another. Aptos’ Ben Dorfman knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the second overtime, while Hahn converted a three-point play and a 3-pointer of his own to put the Dons up 86-84 with 1:18 to play.
Aptos tied it at 86 with 1:04 to play, but the Dons took the lead right back on a Liebergesell bucket.
He missed the ensuing free throw, however, and the Mariners came back to tie it at 88 on a Dante Gomez layup with 36 seconds to play. The Dons were setting up to take the last shot, but Liebergesell was called for traveling, turning the ball over to the Mariners with five seconds left.
Liebergesell’s teammates bailed him out, however, when the Aptos point guard bobbled the ball near midcourt. Manu came up with the steal and his half-court shot hit the front of the rim and caromed off to send the game into a third overtime.
With the score tied at 90, Aptos’ Jonah Gonzales buried a huge 3-pointer for a 93-90 lead with 2:43 left — but it would be the Mariners last points of the game.
With just over two minutes remaining, Hahn came up with a steal at halfcourt, but his shot on the other end was partially blocked. Trevor Pagaduan was there, however, to convert the follow to cut the Aptos lead to 93-92.
That led to Hahn miraculous leaner before the Dons held on in the final moments.
“We just kept saying we needed one more stop,” Hahn said. “We finally got it.”
In all, Aragon had four of its five starters finish in double digit scoring. In addition to Liebergesell and Hahn, Manu finished with 19 and Pagaduan added 15.
Aptos was led by Rossi, who scored 28 points. Welle added 17, Dorfman finished with 15, Gonzales had 13 and Gomez finished with 11.
Valley Christian 61, Hillsdale 40
The Knights, making their first semifinal appearance since 2002, were shooting for a spot in the CCS championship game since winning the 1995 CCS title and advancing to the Division III state championship game.
Hillsdale got off to a slow start, however, and the Warriors gradually pulled away for the victory.
“We just couldn’t get [our deficit] to single digits,” said Hillsdale coach Brett Stevenson. “Physically, I thought that was the difference.”
Hillsdale (14-13) scored the first basket of the game, but Valley Christian responded by scoring the eight points as the Warriors built a 15-7 lead after the first quarter.
The Knights were getting good looks at the basket, getting the ball to the rim consistently, but they could not get their shots to fall.
“Our goal was to get in the paint a little bit,” Stevenson. “But they have big guard and they change your shot inside.”
Hillsdale went more than four minutes without a point, bridging the first and second quarters, and when Ryan Nurre finally connected on a floater, Hillsdale was down 19-9 with 5:52 left in the first half.
At halftime, Valley Christian was comfortably ahead, 33-14.
Hillsdale started to find its range in the second half, at one point cutting the Valley Christian lead to 12, 50-38, with 5:14 left to play.
The Warriors responded with an 11-3 run to end the Knights’ season.
Hillsdale was led by Brian Houle, who finished with a game-high 16 points, while Nurre added 15.
Valley Christian got 15 points from Stephen Ellis and 13 from Randy Cruzet.
Menlo-Atherton 60, Homestead 46
The Bears pulled away from Homestead in the fourth quarter, to advance to their first CCS championship game since 2008, when they lost to Mitty 71-46.
M-A (18-8), the No. 3 seed, will face No. 4 Bellarmine (11-16) at 8 p.m. Saturday at Independence High School.