The Score: SHC 41, Burlingame 32.
The Star: Burlingame High’s Zac Grotz led all scorers with 13 points and three 3-pointers on Saturday afternoon at Santa Clara University, but his team lost to Sacred Heart Cathedral in the Central Coast Section Division III title game for the third straight year.
The Turning Point: The final seven minutes. Third-seeded Burlingame took a 32-31 lead with 7:05 remaining when Stephen Johnson found Grotz for a 3-pointer from the right wing. But the Panthers (26-4) never scored again, missing their final 12 shots and never getting to the free-throw line. While the entire Burlingame team went cold, the top-seeded Fightin’ Irish (23-6) received one basket apiece from five different players to pull away down the stretch.
The Quote: “It’s just disappointment and regret because it’s our last chance as seniors. You can’t work harder for next year because there is no next year.” – Panthers senior post Kyle Shaffer, on the emotion of failing to win a CCS title in his prep career and falling to SHC in the final for the third year in a row.
The Quote #2: “We had the bonus the whole fourth quarter, and I don’t think we had a single 1-and-1. That’s amazing to me.” – Burlingame coach Jeff Dowd, on failing to capitalize on SHC’s foul trouble. The Fightin’ Irish had six team fouls heading into the final period and quickly picked up their seventh when Rodrigo Puliceno drew a shooting foul on the Panthers’ first possession. After he made 1-of-2 to pull his team with 31-29, Burlingame didn’t shoot another free throw.
What’s Next? Burlingame awaits it’s placement in the California Interscholastic Federation Northern California Division III playoffs. The CCS champion and runner-up both advance to NorCals.
The Bottom Line: Burlingame’s status as a perennial bridesmaid remains unchanged. The Panthers, who have never won a Central Coast Section championship, have now lost in the Division III title game six times since 2003 – including five at the hands of a West Catholic Athletic League foe. … Burlingame saw its 17-game winning streak end at the most inopportune time. … The Panthers, whose 32 points were a season low, shot 25 percent (13-for-52) overall and were 4-of-27 in the second half. “Second half, I thought the defense was great,” SHC coach Darrell Barbour said. … The Panthers’ cold shooting came on the heels of a red-hot showing in in the semifinals on Wednesday. Burlingame shot 50 percent in that game. … Against the Fightin’ Irish, Puliceno and Shaffer went a combined 4-for-17 from the floor and totaled nine points. SHC posts Taylor Johns and Joshua Fox combined for 19 points on 9-for-15 shooting. … The Panthers hardly went to their post stars in the fourth quarter, preferring to cast off from 3-point range. Grotz (3-of-9) was the only BHS player with any shooting touch from distance – his teammates went a combined 1-for-14 from beyond the arc. … Johns, who had game highs of four blocks and 11 rebounds, had impressive blocked shots against Shaffer and Dean Ferrari midway through the fourth quarter. “A block is like a dunk to us – it fires us up,” Johns said. … The Panthers went to the line just five times, making two. Against SI, they were 19-of-29. … Burlingame won the rebounding battle (33-31), had more steals (9-3) and committed 16 turnovers to the Fightin’ Irish’s 17. … SHC eliminated Burlingame for the fourth straight year – that run began in the 2008 quarterfinals. … Among the Panthers’ six title-game defeats, Saturday’s was the closest final margin since a 44-42 defeat to St. Ignatius in 2004. The previous three had been by at least 13 points – including a 57-30 hammering by SHC last year.
Sacred Heart Cathedral 41, Burlingame 32
B – 11 10 7 4 – 32
SHC – 6 12 13 10 – 41
B: Bailey 1 0-0 2, D. Ferrari 2 1-2 6, Shaffer 2 0-1 4, Grotz 5 0-0 13, Puliceno 2 1-2 5, F. Ferrari 1 0-0 2. Totals: 13 2-5 32.
SHC: Tapel 3 0-0 6, Johns 4 1-3 9, Fox 4 0-1 8, Pratt 4 0-0 10, Jackson 2 1-2 6, James 0 2-2 2. Totals: 17 4-8 41.
3-point goals: B: Grotz 3, D. Ferrari. SHC: Pratt 2, Jackson.
Records: Burlingame 26-4. Sacred Heart Cathedral 23-6.