The success of the Hillsdale boys’ basketball team came down to taking care of the ball when the third-seeded Knights hosted No. 6 Wilcox in a Central Coast Section Division II quarterfinal game Tuesday night.
When the Knights took care of the ball, they flourished, as they showed with a 9-3 run to close the first quarter or the 12-2 charge in the third quarter.
When Hillsdale got sloppy with the ball, the Chargers made the Knights pay. In the end, a combination of 12 turnovers and 11 Wilcox steals gave the Chargers just enough of an advantage to pull out a 60-56 in San Mateo.
“Nature of the game,” said Hillsdale head coach Arjuna Manning-Laisne.
The loss ends the Knights hopes of winning back-to-back CCS titles. They won the 2020 Division II crown.
They certainly had their chances to keep that hope alive Tuesday night, however. The game was tied at 15-all after the first quarter as Hillsdale recovered from an early 12-6 deficit. A 3-pointer from Jordan Hauser, the first of the game for the Knights, ignited a 9-3 run to end the quarter. Hauser’s 3 was followed by a tear drop floater from Calvin Mader-Clark and then back-to-back layups from Jonathan Wise to give the Knights a 15-12 advantage.
Wilcox closed out the scoring with a three-point play to tie the game after one period.
The Knights continued their run to start the second quarter. Ollie Crank converted a three-point play, getting fouled on an up-and-under move. Hauser hit a pull-up jumper and Mader-Clark drained a fade-away J. When Derrick Gan stepped in and knocked down a pull-up jumper, the Knights held a 24-20 lead with 4:15 left in the half.
But Wilcox turned up the pressure, Hillsdale got lazy with the ball and it resulted in a 16-2 Wilcox run to end the half with the Chargers leading 36-28.
Mader-Clark opened the second with a 3 for Hillsdale, but Wilcox scored on back-to-back possessions to push its lead back to nine, 40-31.
Back came the Knights. It was another Hauser 3 that got Hillsdale rolling. Crank followed with a bucket before Kaelin Powell came alive. The junior center scored on a pair of put-backs as he battled on the boards, coming up with five offensive rebounds that resulted in 8 points.
“Jordan Hauser had a great game,” Manning-Laisne said of junior small forward. “Cal anchors us offensively, and Wise and Powell made some plays inside to keep us in the game.”
Mader-Clark led Hillsdale with 13 points. Hauser added 12 while Wise and Powell combined for 17 points and 13 rebounds.
Powell’s second tip-in of the quarter with 1:31 left gave the Knights their first lead since Crank’s three-point play to open the second period.
It was a short-lived advantage, however. A steal and a lay-up from Solomon Gabre gave the lead back to the Chargers, who would not relinquish it.
That bucket jump-started a 12-2 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters as the Chargers rebuilt their lead to nine, 54-46, with 3:46 left. The Chargers then held off the Knights down the stretch.
“We had some energy (to start the third),” Manning-Laisne said. “Then we got tired and it left us. … Then they got their run going.
“That’s basketball. It’s a game of runs.”
While Hillsdale did a slightly better job of taking care of the ball in the second half, it was the Knights’ shooting that let them down over the final two quarters. After connecting on 12 of 17 shots in the first half, the Knights were just 12 for 33 in the second half, 6 for 17 in the fourth quarter.
“Sometimes you just can’t sustain the level of play you want,” Manning-Laisne said.
In another Division II quarterfinal meeting, top-seeded St. Francis throttled No. 8 Aragon, 70-25, in a Mountain View matinee.
The Lancers’ Vince Barringer lit up the Dons for 30 points — connecting on 10 3-pointers in just three quarters of play.
St. Francis (5-8) sucked sucked the life out of Aragon (6-6) defensively as the Dons were held to quarter point totals of 4, 10, 8 and 3. The Lancers led 9-4 after the first period, 28-14 at halftime and 55-22 after three.
Amrit Sharma led Aragon in scoring with 8 points. Murphy Caffo and Troy Johnson each scored 6.
In Division I, No. 7 Menlo-Atherton could not hold on to a second-half lead, falling to No. 2 Piedmont Hills, 59-57.
In Division III, No. 2 Burlingame moved into the semifinals with a 60-40 win over No. 7 Aptos. Jefferson, the No. 5 seed in Division III, will also play in a semifinal game knocking off No. 4 Live Oak, 59-58.
In Division IV, both Menlo School and Sacred Heart Prep advanced to Thursday semifinal games. The third-seeded Knights moved on with a 54-44 with over No. 6 Pacific Grove, while the top-seeded Gators blew past No. 9 Harker, 86-42.
No. 7 Terra Nova, however, was run off the court by No. 2 King’s Academy, 92-57.
In Division V action, Crystal Springs Uplands School picked up it third win of the year and advanced to the semifinals with a 63-45 win over Mid Peninsula Monday. Crystal Springs (3-13) will face No. 1 Pinewood (6-8) at 7 p.m. Thursday in Los Altos Hills.