Gunn's Chris Russell and David Lee-Heidenreich combined for 30 points to lead the Titans to a 59-29 victory over visiting Santa Clara on Friday night as the Titans clinched the SCVAL El Camino Division basketball title.
The Titans finished their regular season at 11-1 (18-3 overall) while Santa Clara ended its season at 7-5 (13-11 overall).
"We feel great right now," said Gunn head coach Brandynn Williams. "Last year we did OK, but we had a much better and much improved team -- it's pretty cool to win it."
With 10 seconds left in the second quarter, Jonathan Davis nailed a runner from the corner putting Gunn up 33-17 and giving the Titans momentum going into halftime.
Jeffrey and David Lee-Heidenreich combined for 13 points in the first quarter to give the Titans the 19-10 lead going into the second. Santa Clara's Vinay Narayanam cashed in six points for his team. The Gunn defense held Narayanam, who averages 16.7 points per game, to 10 on the night.
"It's been mainly defense for us this year," said Williams, whose defense held opponents to 45 points per game this season. "Last year they thought they could just out shoot everyone, but this year we've beat some good teams and it was all on defense.The guys have bought in to playing defense and have said 'defense wins'."
In the second quarter, Davis layed up a shot, got fouled and converted on the free throw making it a 27-17 lead. David Lee-Heidenreich got the crowd going when he came up to Bruins' Aidan Jardon and rejected the shot off the backboard.
Gunn kept pounding away on the Bruins' defense in the third quarter and went on a 17-2 run. Russell was feeling it and scored eight points, giving the Titans a 50-19 lead.
"It felt good," said Russell. "I was missing my shots in the first half, but I made up for it in the third quarter."
"He's (Russell) a jewel to have on the team," said Williams. "He's one of the best shooters I've ever coached; he was awesome."
Russell was hot again in the fourth quarter when he went around the defense and layed in a reverse layup, putting the Titans up 55-23. Noah Steinbrenner made two shots in a row and made it a 59-24 lead with three minutes remaining.
"Defense is going to be our key to success," said Williams. "Getting rebounds, stops and having urgency. We started off slow so I had to remind the guys saying, 'come on guys this is for league'. When we get a good start and we play good defense, I have faith in my boys that we'll do well."
In the West Bay Athletic League, host Menlo School pulled into a tie for second place with Pinewood by downing the Panthers, 61-53, on the final night of the regular season. Menlo (10-4, 16-7) and Pinewood (10-4, 16-8) have matching records behind undefeated SHP, and the teams split the season series.
Menlo should be in line to get the second CCS automatic berth because it wins the second tiebreaker -- Menlo is 5-2 in second-half play, Pinewood is 4-3. The teams await their postseason fate to be determined at Sunday's seeding meeting.
On Friday, senior Liam Dunn poured in 23 points to pace Menlo and Jared Lucian added 11. Aidan Lucero tallied 15 points and Kyle Murphy added 10 for Pinewood, which played again without standout Ryan Brice and lost for the third time in four games.
Sacred Heart Prep, meanwhile, finished 14-0 in league (22-5 overall) following a 76-33 romp over visiting Eastside Prep (2-12, 12-12). Juniors Connor Moses and Mason Randall each hit five 3-pointers while combining for 32 points for SHP.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto gave up 42 points to Fremont's Mo Abdulrasul and dropped a 65-57 decision in Sunnyvale. Abdulrasul made 14 of 21 field goals and connected on seven 3-pointers.
Division champion Fremont finished 10-2 (18-5 overall) while Palo Alto fell to 7-5 (17-7) and into a second-place tie with Homestead. The Vikings had a six-point lead (40-34) late in the third quarter before Abdulrasul scored the final 10 points of the quarter for Fremont.
The Vikings did rally and tied the game at 57 in the fourth quarter before Fremont scored eight unanswered points. Senior Kevin Mullin led Palo Alto with 20 points.