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San Marin Boys Advance, but Bishop O'Dowd Looms in NorCal Tourney

Mustangs (30-4) set up a rematch of a dicey NCS game by beating Center of Antelope, 61-55, in the NorCal quarterfinals.

With 30 victories in a single season and the first victory in school history in the state championship tournament, the San Marin High boys basketball had every right to go bonkers after Thursday night’s victory over Center High of Antelope.

Yes, the Mustangs held off Center 61-55 in the second round of the CIF State Championship Tournament’s Northern California bracket. Yes, Stuart Wesonga led the team again with 25 points and 21 rebounds, playing Superman as he usually does. Yes, there were late-game heroics by several players.

Yet the celebration was a tad subdued following the win, which sets up a 7 p.m. Saturday game at Redwood High between San Marin (30-4) and Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland, which beat Sacred Heart Cathedral 74-61 on Thursday.

There were smiles and fist-pumps but no overwhelming emotions like there had been following the North Coast Section semifinal victory over O’Dowd on March 2 and the NCS title game win over El Cerrito on March 5. The crowd poured onto the court at the final buzzer and the players rejoiced for, oh, 10 seconds but then quickly got in line to shake hands with the Center players and coaches.

Coach Craig Pitti said his second-seeded team didn’t play as well as it wanted to and certainly not as well as it would need to for a win in the next round. Center, the No. 7 seed, only made three of nine free throws in the game and only stayed competitive with the aid of eight 3-pointers.

"The mark of this team, which is always impressive, is that we sometimes don't play our best game and find a way to win," Pitti said. "This is now three in a row — and its's against three good teams, O'Dowd, El Cerrito and now Center — for us to not play great ... I thought our defense fell off a cliff tonight ... but we found a way to win.

"It’s going to be very difficult Saturday night whether it’s O’Dowd or Sacred Heart. They’re both outstanding teams,” Pitti said before knowing that O’Dowd had won. “Our chances of getting to Arco (Arena, site of the NorCal final) on paper might not look good, but it’s one game. One game to get to Arco. I won’t lie ... If you would have asked me at the start of the year if this was possible … I’m a realist. But these kids have made me believer, though. Their effort has been incredible.”

San Marin took the lead for good with a Chris Glennon free throw with about 2 minutes left in the third quarter, but Center put up an impressive fight, closing it to 56-55 with less than 1 minute left in the game.

Glennon made a layup with 36 seconds left and then was fouled with 28.8 seconds remaining. He missed both shots, leaving the door open for Center. Wesonga was subsequently fouled and missed both shots, too.

But Wesonga was fouled again on a rebound with 11.6 remaining and sank both shots for 60-55 lead. John Seavey added one more free throw for the final margin.

Glennon scored 10 of his 12 points for San Marin in the second half. Jimmy Burrows had eight points followed by Seavey and Ryan Zirkle with six each.

Wesonga dominated the first half for San Marin scoring 17 of the team’s 25 points and snagging 10 rebounds. Center’s standout, Chad Haysbert, was held to two points in the opening half but ended up with a team-high 15 points. Christopher Smith pitched in 13 for Center and Devon Taubodo had nine.

FINNEGAN'S MARIN March 11, 2011 at 06:05 AM
O'Dowd!!! Holy smokes.. This is going to be interesting.. to say the least. Go SM!
Kristen Pitti March 11, 2011 at 06:10 AM
Congratulations Mustangs! Thanks to Brent for providing the minute by minute plays so that I can keep up with my brother and his amazing team. You guys have more heart and determination than any other team out there. You guys deserve this! Keep that fire alive and the wins will keep coming Mustangs! You make us all proud.
Sylvia Barry March 11, 2011 at 06:17 AM
Looks like time to busses the students to Redwood this Saturday! Congratulations, San Marin, and let's do it again Saturday!!! We are so very proud of you!!!
Brent Ainsworth (Editor) March 11, 2011 at 07:17 AM
Your bro is a rock star in this town now, Kristen ... I think he's pretty overwhelmed by the love ... Novato High had this kind of amazing run in football a few years ago and San Marin has won other titles in the past, but this team of Craig's has really captured the city's attention ... It's a Pitti Party, baby!
mike ghiringhelli March 11, 2011 at 01:31 PM
San Marin Mustangs all the way! Go Pitti! Go Wesonga! Go Team! Good Luck !
Diana Wilkins March 11, 2011 at 10:11 PM
Thank you so much for the play by play on the patch. I was out of state for saturday's game and was pleasantly surprised I could keep up with the action. And with last nights game was even better! The live offered on public access is a good idea, but having satellite this was not available to me. THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!
Bill Sockolov March 11, 2011 at 10:51 PM
Congrats, Mustangs!! Another impressive WIN!! I'm proud to be a (former) Mustang parent. The SM players and students continued to show a lot of class and respect for the opposing team and referees. The only dissapointment and embarrassment I felt at the game last night was the constant berating of the refs (as well as the opposing coach) by several of the adults near me...not setting a very good example for our kids, and not helping the reputation of our community. There were several times I wanted to crawl under the stands to get away...
Brent Ainsworth (Editor) March 12, 2011 at 04:40 PM
Professional photographer Bryan Farley has added some great photoes from Thursday's victory to this Novato Patch story: http://bryanfarley.photoshelter.com/gallery/San-Marin-NorCal-Basketball/G0000EK6HGI..JRA

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