SANTA CLARA — Saturday night’s CCS Division II championship might not have gone exactly how Mountain View had planned, but considering the results, they weren’t complaining.
In a gritty defensive battle where both teams reached double-digits in only one quarter, the Spartans beat Leland, 36-34, to win their second section title in three years.
“Our offensive production wasn’t where it usually is, but our defense has been our staple all year,” head coach Kevin Mack said following the victory.
Mountain View (23-4) allowed just one point and held Leland without a field goal over the final 6:57, scoring eight points in a row to take the lead. Fuad Alemu’s steal and layup to put the Chargers up 33-28 would be the final made Leland field goal. Jack Resnick scored off the glass to cut the lead to three, Jailen Daniel-Dalton hit a layup on the following possession and another Resnick layup off the glass put the third-seeded Spartans on top with 4:23 to go.
They would get their final points on two Jake Pappas free throws with 3:54 left. Pappas scored just four points on the night but was one of the key defenders to limit Leland star and BVAL Mt. Hamilton MVP Sohan Kshirsagar to just four.
“Sohan’s a great player, and I just tried to make things tough for him,” said Pappas, who Mack referred to as one of his team’s better on-ball defenders. By constantly switching defenders, the Spartans were able to not only hold Kshirsagar 16 points below his average, but they also held Shane McKnight, who entered the game averaging 15.4, to just three.
The top-seeded Chargers would miss their final 11 shots from the field, including a 3-point try by Shane McKnight with 1:10 left and an attempt from Alemu with 46 seconds to go. Daniel-Dalton would get called for a travel with 28.8 left, giving the ball back to Leland (24-3). Unable to get the quick shot he was hoping for, head coach Mitchell Shapero called his last timeout with 13.1 remaining.
“We drew up a play with multiple options, and we didn’t get an open look,” Shapero said.
Rather than try to force a low-percentage shot and hope for another miss, the Spartans decided to take the game to the free throw line, with Trevor Baba drawing the foul with 12.1 to go. He made his first free throw and managed to win the race for the long rebound after missing the second. That got McKnight a chance at a hurried 3-pointer, which he missed. Pappas was fouled off an inbound with 4.5 left, and though he missed, the only remaining chance the Chargers would get was a heave from Kshirsagar just past the half-court line, which clanked off the backboard and bounced away as time expired.
Offensively, neither of Mountain View’s top scorers were part of the 8-0 stretch in the fourth quarter, but were it not for Will Dominguez and Sam Tobin, the five-point deficit the Spartans came back from could have been far larger. Dominguez scored a game-high 12 points while Tobin finished with 10.
“That’s one of the best games I’ve seen Dominguez play,” Shapero said of the 7-foot-1 center.
Alemu and center Preston Weber each scored 10 for Leland. Joseph Chen had six points off the bench, hitting a pair of threes in the second quarter. Weber and Alemu each scored six in the third, with a pair of Alemu threes giving the Chargers a 31-28 advantage.