Aidan Braccia was the first to arrive, donning his sneakers and looking for a basketball for a shootaround.
He may not have been the first to arrive at Sacred Heart Prep for its CIF State NorCal boys basketball game with Oakland Tech earlier Thursday but he was most definitely the first to arrive at Menlo School, where the final 14 minutes or so of the Division I contest was played.
Top seeded Sacred Heart Prep had an 11-point advantage when the game was stopped and held on to beat No. 4 Oakland Tech 77-70 as Braccia stayed hot and finished with 30 points. He was 10-of-13 from the foul line and is 22-of-25 in the NorCal playoffs.
A power outage at Sacred Heart Schools just after the second half began forced the suspension of the game. Athletic Directors Frank Rodriguez of SHP and Earl Koberlein of Menlo immediately got together to work out the details.
The Gators (25-4) return home Saturday for a 6 p.m. game with No. 13 Clovis North (20-11), which lost twice in the Central Coast Open Division before going on the road and beating Miramonte 70-68 in overtime and Folsom 45-43 on Thursday.
The Menlo girls hosted Caruthers in a Division II contest Saturday, so all the equipment needed for a game was already set up and a come-from-behind finish by the Menlo girls kept the building heated for the players, officials and fans who made the trek down Valparaiso Ave.
“(We) grabbed a couple basketballs and playboard and headed over to Menlo,” Sacred Heart Prep coach Tony Martinelli said. “It definitely changed things. The home court advantage was gone and so were a good amount of our fans. A lot of people did not realize that we were finishing the game there.”
Emmer Nichols added 16 points and Sachit Sinha netted 14 for SHP.
“Both teams had to deal with an unconventional situation and I appreciate our administration as well as Menlo's for making the transition as smooth as possible,” Martinelli said. “We will all remember this one for a very long time.”
Clovis North and Sacred Heart Prep have no common opponents, though they do share a few things. Both have scored 100 points in a game this season.
The Broncos have scored 2,098 points thus far, while the Gators have 2,093 points in two fewer games.
Fourth seed Priory continues its season after beating No. 5 Denair 70-49.
Junior Tayo Sobomehin scored 21 points in helping Priory (18-11) reach the NorCal regional semifinals. The Panthers travel to No. 1 Cloverdale (26-2) for a 6 p.m. game Saturday.
Oliver Conn added 15 points and freshman Ryder Bush, who has done nothing but get better every game, had 10. Bush has earned more playing time and coach David Moseley has all the faith in the world in him.
Bush hit a pair of key 3-pointers in the contest. Sobomehin had six to go with six steals and four assists. Bush and Walker Rust each added four assists. Steve Emeneke scored eight points and had 12 rebounds.
Conn and Clint Smith combined for another 13 rebounds.
Division II, III, IV
No. 7 St. Francis (16-13) fell to No. 2 Branson 54-43 at Dominican College in Division II, top-seeded Pleasant Valley bested Menlo (21-8), 81-36 in Division III and top-seeded Enterprise scored on a pair of free throws with 2.6 seconds remaining to play to edge Mountain View (20-8), 38-36, in Division IV.
Menlo coach Ben Batory, in his debut year with the Knights, talked about high school sports existing at the intersection of education, community, competition, and personal development and the challenges and opportunities and challenges that exist at that intersection.
"We rose to those challenges; we grasped those opportunities," Batory said. "It was an absolute pleasure to coach bright and engaging young men, to help them stretch mentally and physically…and to watch each player grow in their own way which made for team growth as a result."
Girls Division II, III
Freshman Karen Xin hit a 3-pointer with 21.5 seconds to play to give No. 2 Menlo the lead for good in a 59-55 victory over No. 6 Caruthers in Division II.
The Knights (18-7) trailed by 10 at halftime and was still down by seven going into the fourth quarter.
"When we finally started to come back in the fourth quarter I was super excited and proud of the team for showing everyone that we worked for our seeding and that this was the level we really play at," Menlo senior Jazlin Chen said. "Every win, when you get this far, is a feat."
Chen finished with a team-high 15 points while Xin had seven of her 12 points in the fourth. Junior Jordan Brooks also added 12 points for the Knights.
"Luckily I've never known my team to give up,” Chen said. “I think what really helps us is our positive attitude and the calm way we take on talking about the game in the locker room. Everyone has a chance to voice their opinion and what they're seeing. All players are also good at addressing each other respectfully. Having a ton of hype women on the team is definitely a great plus."
Menlo hosts No. 10 Antelope (25-6) at 6 p.m. Saturday in the regional semifinals. Antelope edged No. 2 McClatchy 60-58.
Antelope is led by 6-foot-2 junior Mary Carter, who leads her team with a 24.4 scoring average, 11 rebounds a game and 3.1 blocks.
Sharon F.T. Nejad leads Menlo with an 11.5 scoring average and 13.7 rebounds a game.
In Division III, No. 7 Priory (16-9) beat Evergreen Valley 74-27. The Cougars (22-3) previous two losses were by one point to Los Gatos and 10 points to Homestead.
“We jumped out on them early in the first quarter and went up by double digits going into the half,” Priory coach Buck Matthews said. “Our full court defensive pressure bothered them the entire game.”
Priory travels to play No. 3 Oakland Tech (18-11) at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Carmela Fontes led Priory with 20 points and five rebounds. Shomira Bidaye scored 13, had four rebounds and four assists.