Turning a tide of emotion is one of the toughest things to do in all of sports. And for the Burlingame boys’ basketball team Saturday, the challenge was overcoming a 14-1 swing at the end of the first half by visiting Miramonte.
The No. 4-seed Panthers came oh so close, but in the end fell short with a heartbreaking 78-76 loss to the No. 12-seed Matadors in the second round of the Northern California Division III tournament. Panthers senior Frankie Ferrari, a burgeoning Burlingame legend, made two 3-point attempts in the final 10 seconds to try and win it, but converted neither.
The first attempt was a legit chance from just beyond the arc that missed short with 10 seconds remaining on the game clock. The second was a desperation shot from beyond half court at the buzzer.
As the latter faded wide right, the stunned superstar point guard merely stared towards the bucket as if in disbelief that Burlingame’s epic run at a state championship had just ended a mere three games short of its mission.
“I thought we were going to do it,” Burlingame head coach Pete Harames said. “But we couldn’t hit shots.”
Ferrari left his heart on the floor with a pedal-to-the-metal performance on a night when he simply couldn’t get his best jump shot going. Averaging 22.2 points per game this season, he was just 10 of 31 from the floor and still tabbed a team-high 28 points. Despite Ferrari’s erratic performance, Harames said he had no problem with his 6-foot senior taking the final shot.
“I trust him. He knows that,” Harames said. “That guy has more court sense than I’ve ever seen in a guy. … I have total trust. So whatever he decided.”
It was the momentum shift midway through the second quarter, sparked by Miramonte guard Drew Anderson, that defined the game. The senior notched a double-double with 34 points and 20 rebounds, both game highs.
It was just another great game for Drew Anderson, Miramonte head coach Drew McDonald said.
“He’s putting the game on his shoulders a lot the time, but he’s still passing to his teammates in key spots for assists. He had just an unbelievable ballgame in my view. He just really stepped up. The kid has got a world of heart,” McDonald said.
Basketball isn’t even Drew Anderson’s first sport, as the senior was a second-team All-Metro quarterback who surpassed the 4,000-yard passing plateau in the fall.
“He came out of football as the best quarterback in Northern California and he just walked on the basketball court and he’s one of the best basketball players in the Bay Area,” McDonald said.
Much in part to the on-court chemistry of Ferrari and senior guard Justin Gutang, Burlingame stormed out to a big lead by the end of the first quarter. Gutang and Ferrari each had key assists in the opening eight minutes. And as Ferrari hit his second 3 of the game with 19 seconds remaining in quarter, the Panthers were in the driver’s seat up 21-10.
But Ferrari went ice cold for the remainder of the half, shooting 0 for 8 from the floor throughout the second quarter. With the Panthers leading 27-18 with six minutes to go in the half, Drew Anderson caught fire and absolutely took over the game for the Matadors.
Midway through the second quarter, Miramonte closed Burlingame’s lead to 27-24 on a Drew Anderson field goal. The Panthers relied on the post presence of senior center Nick Loew to hold the Matadors at bay. Loew responded to the Miramonte footsteps by converting on a three-point play to bump the Burlingame lead to 30-24. On the ensuing Matadors’ possession, Loew tabbed a steal to help put the Panthers up by eight.
But Miramonte still managed to close the gap and with a minute remaining in the half, Drew Anderson hit one of his four 3-pointers on the night to give the Matadors a 35-33 advantage. And the Matadors rode the wave of momentum as Drew Anderson’s little brother, sophomore Ryan Anderson, went on a tear in the final minute of the half by tabbing a steal and a layup with 15 seconds remaining. He then immediately grabbed another steal and drew a foul, converting 1-of-2 free throws to close the half, giving Miramonte a 38-33 lead — finishing the half on a 14-1 run.
In the second half, Gutang emerged as a force from the get-go and tried to wrestle back the momentum for Burlingame. The Panthers’ third leading scorer at 10.8 points per game this season, Gutang nearly matched that with 10 third-quarter points. He would go on to finish the night with 21 points, eight rebounds, and two steals.
With 3:41 remaining in the third quarter, Burlingame closed the Miramonte lead to 47-45 as Gutang notched his second steal and dashed to the hoop on a fast break for 2. At the start of the fourth quarter, Gutang hit a clutch bucket to finally catch the Matadors at 61-61.
From that point, the lead seesawed five times, with Ferrari going on a blistering run within a span of a minute by hitting a 3 to close Miramonte’s lead to 65-64 then converting on a pull-up jumper on the following possession to give Burlingame a 66-65 edge. With 4:21 remaining, he fired another 3 to give the Panthers a 69-65 advantage.
But Miramonte guard Joey Goodreault answered with a pair of 3s of his own to close Burlingame’s lead to 73-72. After a back-and-forth slugfest in the final two minutes—which Burlingame had to go without Loew, who fouled out with 2:13 remaining — Miramonte hit a pair of free throws to take a 77-76 lead with 10 seconds remaining and would hold Burlingame in check until the buzzer.
With the win, Miramonte advances to the Nor Cal semifinals to face No. 9-seed Sir Francis Drake, Tuesday.
In finishing three games shy of a shot at a state championship, Burlingame closes the 2013-14 season with a 26-5 record.
“It was a fantastic season,” Harames said. “[I] enjoyed the kids — great kids — I thought great accomplishments. We’re disappointed. We thought we could do some damage. I thought we had a chance to go all the way.”
Harames last advanced to the state championship in 1995 as the head coach of Capuchino, when the Mustangs lost in the championship game by one point to Verbum Dei.