Salesian never trails, earns a 64-53 win over Campolindo to capture its third straight North Coast Section Division III championship
MORAGA — Same teams. Same venue. Same stakes. Same final result.
The Salesian High boys basketball team owned a 14-point lead at halftime and went on to a business-like 64-53 win over Campolindo on Saturday to capture its third straight North Coast Section Division III championship, all of which have come against the Cougars inside McKeon Pavilion at Saint Mary’s College.
Jaden Lazo and Jovon McClanahan each had 13 points, Te’jon Sawyer and Shane Bell both had 12 and Tyler Brinkman added 10 for Salesian (31-0), which hasn’t lost a section playoff game since 2015. The Pride also won the Division IV title in 2016.
“It’s been a really great run, and obviously this is a special team,” Salesian coach Bill Mellis said. “It’s been a very enjoyable year. They’re a joy to coach.”
With another NCS crown in hand, Salesian can now turn its attention to the start of CIF Open Division playoffs next week. Salesian is once again expected to be Northern California’s No. 1 seed when brackets for the state playoffs are announced Sunday.
Clearly, the Pride’s focus will be on avenging what happened a year ago, when, as the No. 1 seed in the Open Division with a 30-1 record, it was stunned 75-70 by No. 8 Folsom in the first round.
Members of this season’s Salesian team feel they have a bit more cohesion than maybe in years past.
“Obviously, this is a different group from last year, I think we’re more together,” Jovon McClanahan said. “We share the ball. Whoever shoots, it doesn’t really matter. As long as we keep playing that way, we’ll be fine.”
“They really don’t care who scores and who gets the credit,” Mellis said. “They really just want to win.”
Freshman Aidan Mahaney had 23 points to lead the Cougars, who figure to be selected to play in Division I or II regional playoffs.
Salesian beat Campolindo in the section final 55-40 in 2017 and 67-53 last year when Sawyer had 24 points and 18 rebounds. In both years, the Pride was the top seed and the Cougars were No. 2.
Saturday, Salesian never trailed, taking a 17-9 lead at the end of the first quarter and owning a 34-20 advantage at halftime, hitting five 3-pointers in the first 16 minutes.
“They have so many different weapons,” Campolindo Steven Dyer said. “Last year, (Sawyer) killed us. You can’t take everything away from them. They hit a bunch of threes early and I just didn’t think we rebounded well enough in the first half to give ourselves much of a chance.”
By winning its third straight Division III title, per section rules, Salesian will automatically be moved up to Division II for the 2020 NCS playoffs.
It can’t come soon enough for the Cougars.
Campolindo (22-8), backed by its hometown crowd, entered Saturday on a five-game win streak, which included a wild 70-68 overtime victory over St. Patrick-St. Vincent on Wednesday.Guard Carter Mahaney had winner for the winning basket in that game, as his runner down the lane fell through to send the Cougars to the NCS Division III title game for the third straight year against the Pride.
Saturday, David Ahazie had 11 points and Carter Mahaney had 12.
“We really came into this year and we thought this was our best chance,” Dyer said. “But we didn’t play as well as we could have.”
Here is a link to the article: