Sacred Heart Prep played a terrific first three quarters Saturday against Half Moon Bay only to watch as the Cougars tied it at the end of regulation and went on to a 77-71 victory in overtime.
Half Moon Bay (13-2) has turned a lot of heads this season, going 3-2 against WCAL teams among other achievements, so it would have been a quality win for the Gators if they could have held on.
But coming close was no solace for SHP coach Tony Martinelli and his players.
“We don’t play the schedule we do for a bunch of moral victories,’’ Martinelli said. “Up 12 going into the fourth quarter … we expect to win those games.’’
SHP (8-5) led 37-28 at halftime and 57-45 after three quarters, but managed only seven points in the fourth quarter and was outscored 32-14 over the fourth quarter and overtime. HMB hit two 3-pointers in the final minute of regulation to pull even at 64-64 and send the game to overtime.
“Our shots that were going down in the first half started falling short and allowing their runouts,’’ Martinelli said. “50-50 balls seemed to go to them way too much.’’
In overtime HMB’s Sean Kennedy hit a 3-pointer to give the Cougars their first lead, since the second quarter, at 67-66. Aidan Braccia followed with his fourth 3-pointer of the game to put SHP back on top at 69-67. But Half Moon Bay scored the next 10 points to put the game away.
Braccia, who recently received an offer from San Jose State, finished with a game-high 28 points,
“He was feeling it,’’ Martinelli said. “It shows the kind of player he is. He loves to play the game. When he gets it going there are not too many bad shots for him. And when the defense focused more on him he did a good job of giving it up to teammates.’’
Harrison Carrington, who picked up two fouls early and had to sit the remainder of the first quarter, came back and provided his normal scoring counterpoint to Braccia, with 18 points.
The Gators have always played an uptempo style under Martinelli. They had it in high gear the first three quarters Saturday, executing at a level not often seen among high school teams, particularly in this pandemic-delayed season.
“The tempo, the pace of it, I love coaching games like that,’’ Martinelli said. “(HMB) coach Parsons does too.’’
But playing fast also allows an opponent to have an easier time reducing a deficit and making a comeback.
“Playing that style has paid off more than hurt us,’’ Martinelli said. “But for that kind of situation you need to get in the film room to show them, this is the time to slow it down, and this year we can’t even get in the film room because of covid. That film study has eluded us so those are things we need to talk about in practice.’’
Sachit Sinha recorded a season-high nine points for the Gators.