Mason Randall already has played in some meaningful athletic competitions in his athletic career at Sacred Heart Prep, as the sophomore quarterbacked the Gators' football team to a Central Coast Section championship and state finals appearance earlier this fall.
Playing in the CCS Division IV basketball championship game against Harker on Saturday, Randle got a chance to put his stamp on yet another important Sacred Heart sporting event.
"The kid's just cool as ice, nothing bothers him," Sacred Heart head coach Tony Martinelli said. "The bigger the game the better he is."
Randall poured in 15 points from the bench as top-seeded Sacred Heart Prep defeated Harker, 48-37, to capture its fourth CCS championship in the past five years.
The Gators (20-7) also got big contributions from their leading scorer Corbin Koch, who had 11 points and seven rebounds, and starting center Andrew Daschbach, who grabbed 15 rebounds.
The championship game got off to an extremely slow start offensively for both teams, as neither team scored a field goal until Koch hit a 3-pointer for the Gators at the 3:15 mark of the first quarter.
"Each team kind of knew each other going into the game," said Martinelli, whose squad split the West Bay Athletic League season series with Harker. "That probably resulted in the shaky start scoring wise."
The Gators nearly held the Eagles scoreless for the entire first quarter, as Nicholas Nguyen's layup with 30 seconds left accounted for the only Harker points in the period.
Midway through the second quarter, with Sacred Heart leading 13-6, Randall began to find his grove offensively. The sophomore went on a 10-0 run by himself, hitting two 3-pointers and two long jumpers to open up a 14 point lead for the Gators.
"With all the penetration from our guards and all the offensive rebounds we had . . . that leaves people like me open to shoot," Randall said. "You have to come out with a lot of energy off the bench."
Despite the double digit disadvantage, Harker would not go away quietly. The Eagles went on a 23-6 run of their own during the second and third quarters, cutting the Gators' lead to just one.
Once again Sacred Heart turned to Randall for offense, and he came through, hitting a tough jumper in the paint and a 3-pointer in transition to open up a 34-28 lead by the end of the third quarter.
"He's a guy who could be a starter. He's such a selfless kid, he just wants to do whatever he can to help the team," Martinelli said of Randall. "He makes our bench that much better. He knocked down some big shots."
Harker never got closer than six points the rest of the way, and free-throws down the stretch by Koch and Ryan Galvin helped seal the Gators' win.
Although Sacred Heart Prep has enjoyed plenty of success in the CCS tournament over the last few years, Martinelli was anxious to try and lead this Gators' squad to further playoff glory.
"I started coaching here seven years ago, and when we started winning CCS championships I used to be satisfied with that," Martinelli said. "A couple years back we went to the NorCal finals, it really gave me a taste for what that stage is like. We want to win in NorCal. We want to get to the state game. That would be the next evolution of our program."
That next step begins this week with the CIF NorCal playoffs.
Division I boys
Menlo-Atherton saw its hopes for a section title end in a 43-41 loss to No. 4-seeded Bellarmine in the finals on Saturday night at Independence High in San Jose.
The No. 3-seeded Bears (18-9) held a 35-34 lead with under 6:30 left in the game. The Bells (12-16) grabbed a 43-41 lead with 50 seconds to play and eventually became the lowest win-total champ for boys in CCS history when the Bears' Leland Callahan had a 3-point attempt tipped back to him with 8.3 seconds left and then his jumper in traffic miss the mark.
M-A's 6-foot-6 senior Oliver Bucka injured his ankle early in the third quarter after scoring six points and grabbing most of his nine rebounds in the first half. He had his ankle taped and return about four minutes later, but was limping.
The Bears did retake the lead at 36-35 on a basket by Grant Henninger, but lost it quickly. The teams battled back and forth until the final seconds.
The appearance in the finals was M-A's fifth in program history. The Bears won in 1988 and '89 and finished second in 2007 and '08.