Remarkably, the Palo Alto boys basketball team found itself within two points when Matt Corrigan hit a 3-pointer with 8.1 seconds remaining to play.
Time was not Paly’s friend though and host Santa Clara made its free throws and got an offensive rebound to seal a 48-43 victory Tuesday night in the quarterfinals of the Central Coast Section Division I tournament.
The Vikings (11-9) entered the fourth quarter facing a 12-point deficit. Senior Aidan Rausch scored eight of his team-high 20 points in the final period. He fouled out with 25 seconds remaining.
Paly was within 30-25 when Ryan Lykken made all three of his free throws with 2:35 left in the third quarter. The Bruins (15-3) scored the final seven points of the frame to open the double-digit lead.
Things got interesting when Sebastian Chancellor hit a 3-pointer and was fouled on the play with 1:01 remaining to play.
Chancellor had to leave the game with an apparent left ankle injury and Rausch came on to finish off the 4-point play to bring Paly within 43-37.
Lykken intercepted a pass on Santa Clara’s next possession and that led to a Rausch 3-pointer at 37.6 seconds left.
The Bruins made a pair of free throws to open a 5-point edge moments later.
The Vikings missed a layup with 25 seconds left on a play Rausch was called for his fifth foul. Corrigan replaced him and hit his 3-pointer.
Santa Clara scored the game’s first 10 points and Paly was never able to recover. Of the Bruins’ first 13 points, 11 were from turnovers.
“We knew what to expect,” Palo Alto coach Jeff LaMere said. “It’s hard to prepare for their speed and tenacity but we knew we had to take care of the ball.”
Palo Alto was the only team to beat Santa Clara during league play, handing the Bruins both of their losses. Santa Clara won the title on the final day of the season as a result of Paly beating Mountain View, which shared first place with Santa Clara entering play.
“It’s tough to beat a team three teams, especially a hungry team like that,” LeMere said. “We were able to double their big guy in previous games. This time, their guards stepped up and made plays.”
Palo Alto loses four seniors in Rausch, Martin Segura, Andrew Li and Simon Minami.
“Our seniors have given so much to Palo Alto High,” LeMere said. “They love playing the game and love being part of it. They are going to be hard to replace because they showed what it takes to win.”
Rausch will be playing in the fall at Whitman College, where he’ll join former Sacred Heart Prep all-star Jai Deshpande on a young team. The Blues lost one senior.
As for his returners, LaMere felt they learned something about themselves.
“This was a great game to use as a springboard for the juniors,” LaMere said.
In Division IV, Sacred Heart Prep beat visiting Harker for the third time this season to reach Thursday’s semifinal.
The top-seeded Gators took care of Harker 86-42 on Tuesday as Harrison Carrington (26) and Aidan Braccia (24) combined for 50 points.
Teddy Purcell and RJ Stephens combined for another 20 points for SHP (13-7), which hosts Scotts Valley at 7 p.m.
Scotts Valley (10-8) downed San Lorenzo Valley 64-54 to advance.
Menlo School (7-9) also advanced into the semifinals by defeating visiting Pacific Grove 54-44 on Tuesday.
Lucas Vogel led Menlo with 16 points. Fellow sophomore Robby Enright added 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field.
Junior Daniel Solomon had nine assists to go along with nine points and four rebounds while senior Hunter Riley contributed nine points, making 3 of 4 from long range.
The third-seeded Knights get another shot at No. 2 The King’s Academy, which downed Terra Nova 92-57.
TKA, also known as the Knights, beat Menlo twice during the regular season, each time by four points.
Thursday’s 7 p.m. contest will be at The King’s Academy.
After beating host Monterey 10-6 Tuesday, Woodside turns around and heads to Stevenson for a CCS Division III semifinal meeting on Wednesday.
The seventh-seeded Wildcats (14-9) knocked No. 2 with the help of three RBIs each from junior Madi Truesdale and sophomore Isabella Fex.
Senior Sydney Truesdale slammed three doubles and Woodside hit eight doubles in all. Madi Truesdale and Emma Kinder, who had three hits, each hit a pair of them.
Sydney Truesdale collected four hits, scored four runs and drove in a pair. Isabelle Cox added two hits and drove in a run.
Madi Truesdale took a shutout into the sixth inning and then weathered a Toreadores’ rally to close it out.
In Division I, host Gunn lost to Los Gatos 8-4. The Titans (13-2) finished as co-champions, with Cupertino, for the SCVAL El Camino Division title.
Los Gatos (13-8) finished second in the SCVAL De Anza Division, a game behind Los Altos.
Woodside fell to second-seeded St. Francis 63-22 in Division II play and finished the season with a 6-5 mark.