PALO ALTO — No. 1 seed Bellarmine College Prep set up a clinic of half-court execution on Thursday in a 56-40 victory over host Palo Alto in a Central Coast Section Division I semifinal.
The Bells shot 60% (24 of 40) for the game from the floor.
“We really emphasized movement off the ball,” Bellarmine coach Alex Sarrett said. “Many of those cuts and actions we’ve done pretty well today.”
Sophomore Brayden Harris led the way with 15 points. He scored seven in quick succession in the first quarter as Bellarmine (12-13) jumped out to an 11-2 lead, never heading.
Julian Gospich scored 13 and post player Nick Corbett added 10. Bellarmine led 50-29 after three quarters and Sarrett emptied his bench in the fourth quarter.
Mert Yanar led No. 4 seed Palo Alto (19-7) with 14 points.
Accustomed to a significantly tough level of competition after going 5-9 in the rough West Catholic Athletic League, Bellarmine was placed in Division I. Both Sarrett and Palo Alto coach Jeff LaMere said they believe the Bells belonged in the Open Division . They are definitely the elephant in the room in a Division I category that otherwise consists of seven public schools.
In the second semifinal Thursday in Palo Alto, No. 2 Los Gatos (21-5) also never trailed in a 63-56 victory over Carlmont.
The Wildcats were the bigger team but also showed an advantage from the perimeter, making nine 3-pointers to seven for a Carlmont team hoping to make the first CCS boys’ basketball championship game in the school’s 68-year history by taking advantage of his speed.
“They shot well and we didn’t,” said Carlmont coach Ron Ozorio. “When we looked good, we didn’t knock them down.”
Point guard Nate Wong led No. 3 seed Carlmont (18-8) with 18 points.
Los Gatos showed a balanced offense. Tommy Ankenbrandt led the way with 17 points, Nolan Koch scored 16 and Max Houghton had 11.
“On any given night, we feel like we have four, five, six or seven guys who can score 15 or 16 points,” said Los Gatos coach Nick Ward. “We’ve had three or four guys score in the 20s this season.”
What do the Wildcats have to do for a shot at Bellarmine in the Finals?
“Play hard,” Ward said. “There’s no magic wand. We will do our best and concentrate on one possession at a time.”