Menlo-Atherton senior A'Marion McCoy figures the Bears have played about a half-season and are just now beginning to play as a team.
"In football we played five games and that was it," McCoy said after M-A beat visiting Los Gatos 56-48 in the second round of the Central Coast Section Division I playoffs Saturday. "We didn't know if we would have a basketball season. Now we starting to come together and playing better as a team."
That was particularly true on the defensive end, where M-A (5-6) used its athleticism to pester the Wildcats (10-7) into turnovers. McCoy's steal and ensuing basket in the final minute of play gave M-A its final margin of victory.
"That felt great," McCoy said. "Coach always stresses defense and how it leads to offense."
McCoy finished with a team-high 16 points, several a result of turnovers. Spencer Lin added 12 points, including a 4-of-5 effort from the foul line in the fourth quarter. Ricky Martin scored 10 points.
Like McCoy, Lin and Martin are seniors.
"Getting the chance to play we can show our younger brothers how it's done," McCoy said. "What's crazy is it looked like we weren't going to play in the CCS and here we are."
Menlo-Atherton travels to play at Piedmont Hills on Tuesday, with a game time of 7 p.m. It will be M-A's second meeting with the second-seeded Pirates (15-5), who edged M-A 51-49 on May 15.
Piedmont Hills, which averages 59.9 points a game, has won seven straight, including a four-point win at Los Gatos.
The Bears never trailed after Lin hit a basket just before halftime to make it 22-21. M-A led by as many as 13 points early in the fourth quarter.
Los Gatos made a run to close within 48-44 with 1:21 remaining but McCoy and company never let the Wildcats get any closer.
"We're just going to play our game," McCoy said. "We're not going to change for anyone."