PALO ALTO — Ever since Monterey squandered a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter of last year’s CCS Division III Championship, the Toreadores hadn’t felt like themselves.
In a year that saw the Toreadores fall short of a league title and have their Senior Night canceled, they may have just found themselves at the right time.
The disappointments of last year’s title game were quickly a thing of the past on Saturday afternoon as top-seeded Monterey (22-4) raced out to a 16-3 lead in the opening minutes, went ahead by 20 in the opening moments of the third quarter and cruised to a 59-31 win over the Aptos Mariners.
“We felt like we’ve underachieved,” head coach Greg Daniels said. “We needed to realize that we had other goals that we still had to accomplish.”
The pursuit of those goals nearly came to a halt on Thursday when Monterey barely survived fourth-seeded Hillsdale, but there would be no such drama just under 48 hours later.
In a battle of explosive offense against stifling defense, it was the Toreadores’ high-flying style that prevailed with ease, even as they went just 13-of-23 at the free throw line and missed a handful of easy layups.
“We definitely left some points out there,” Daniels said.
They made up for it with great shot selection, attempting just seven 3-pointers but connecting on six of them to blow past a team that hadn’t allowed more than 45 points since January 18. Mohammed Adam led all scorers with 19 points, spreading out his production despite battling foul trouble. He picked up his third in the final minutes of the second quarter but ensured it wouldn’t be a factor in the final two periods.
“I reached and gambled a couple times, but I didn’t want to do that in the second half,” he said. “I tried to be mindful and not give them any opportunities.”
Leading 34-16 at the half, the Toreadores were thinking far less about last year’s collapse, focusing instead on their 2017 title.
“I wanted to do what we did sophomore year,” Adam said.
It’s the second championship in three years for Monterey’s remarkable senior class, headlined by Adam and his twin brother, Mohanid, along with Tahjae Ordonio and Evans Charles. Mohanid scored 12 points, while Charles and Ordonio each added nine.
“I remember when they were sophomores, they were talking about what they were going to do as seniors,” Daniels said. “Now they’re seniors. This is their moment.”
With a third consecutive state tournament trip, the Toreadores hope they still have a few more moments. In 2017, they beat Miramonte in the first round before falling to Vanden. Last year, they were bounced in Modesto in the opening round by Central Catholic.
Anthony Sanchez led second-seeded Aptos with 12 points.