The Gunn boys took to the basketball floor this season for the 22nd time on Tuesday night. Yet, there was something different for every member of the squad.
The Titans' appearance was their first in the Central Coast Section playoffs since 2011, when most of the players were still in middle school. Thus, it took a while for Gunn to get going on its way to a 52-45 victory over visiting Evergreen Valley in a Division I opener.
The victory earned the No. 9-seeded Titans (19-3) a date in the second round on Thursday at No. 8 seed Oak Grove (15-9) at 7 p.m. The winner will face top-seeded Bellarmine (14-10) in the quarterfinals on Saturday at Foothill College.
Evergreen Valley (13-11), which came in unseeded, gave Gunn fits throughout and was still in the game at 45-44 before Gunn junior Alex Gil-Fernandez hit back-to-back hoops for a 49-44 lead.
It was tied at 20 at halftime, but Gunn pulled away in the third quarter behind Gil-Fernandez. He finished with 15 points while senior brothers Jeffrey and David Lee-Heidenreich combined for 21 points.
Gunn, at times, played tentatively and let Evergreen's press dictate the pace. Gunn's length and blocked shots helped saved the day as Evergreen played disciplined and aggressive.
Gunn will have to play more composed against Oak Grove and be able to handle any press, otherwise suffer an early exit.
Tuesday's win was Gunn's first in the postseason since 2009, when the Titans were seeded No. 3 and opened with a win over Mills in the quarterfinals -- but lost to Mitty in the semifinals, 43-42.
Gunn lost to Woodside in the first round in 2010 and fell to Watsonville in 2011 in the second round after opening with a bye.
Joining Gunn in the second round on Thursday will be No. 5 Palo Alto (17-7) and No. 6 Menlo-Atherton (14-11). Both teams will host at 7 p.m.
The Vikings will take on No. 12 Santa Teresa (13-12), a 56-55 winner over Wilcox while the Bears will host No. 11 Milpitas (13-12), a 58-49 winner over Cupertino.
Palo Alto opened its season and gave new head coach Pete Fukuhara his first win, a 6-3 nonleague decision over visiting St. Ignatius. Issac Kasevich picked up the win as he and reliever Owen Plambeck combined on a four-hitter. Ben Cleasby had two hits, one a triple, and three RBI with Phil Lewis and Plambeck each adding two hits. The teams were tied at 2 after the first inning before Paly broke the game open with a three-run sixth inning.
In San Jose, Gunn (0-2) dropped a 9-3 nonleague decision to host Pioneer.
In Atherton, host Sacred Heart Prep opened its season with a 5-1 nonleague loss to Aragon.
Palo Alto got its first victory of the season by downing host Valley Christian, 190-212, on Tuesday at Silver Creek Country Club in San Jose. Freshman Joonsung Ha earned medalist honors for the Vikings with a 31. He had five birdies and no bogeys during his nine holes while chipping in on holes 1 and 4 (from a bunker). He also made a 40-putt on the third hole for a birdie.
Henry Gordon shot 37, Ahmed Ali a 39, John Knowles a 41 and Henry Hughes a 42.
Palo Alto opened its season on Monday with coach Doyle Knight sending half his team to a a tournament hosted by North Salinas. The Vikings finished third with a 402 with St. Francis taking the title with a 374.
Ali, another freshman, led Paly with a 74. Gordon shot 80, Greg Eum an 81, Ha carded an 83 and Matt Lewis an 84.
The other half of the team played in a 201-226 dual- match loss to host Sacred Heart Prep at Sharon Heights CC. Knowles, a senior, led the Vikings with a 38 with Hughes adding a 42 and sophomore Dillon Scheel a 47 to lead the way.
Also Tuesday, Gunn defeated Los Altos, 201-219, at Shoreline Golf Links in Mountain View.