Oceanside High School Coach Bill Christopher knew what the Pirates had to do to beat No. 3 Hoover in their first round San Diego CIF 2-A boys basketball game Tuesday night.
"We knew that the tempo would be the key," he said, after the Pirates had defeated the Cardinals at Hoover, 51-47. "Our kids controlled the tempo and that was the key."
Hoover entered the playoffs averaging more than 70 points a game but managed only three field goals in the final quarter as Oceanside (17-6) overcame a 39-35 third-quarter deficit.
Oceanside, the defending 2-A champions, advance to the semifinals this weekend. Hoover, the City Central League champions, finished 20-5.
"That was the kind of game we couldn't afford to play," Hoover Coach Harold Mitrovich said. "They played a great game and kept us from picking up the tempo."
The Cardinals, however, took a four-point lead into the final quarter before losing their rhythm.
Tim Prim, who lead the Pirates with 14 points, started the Oceanside comeback with two baskets early in the final quarter.
Moments later, Okland Salanea scored inside off a feed from Junior Seau to give the Pirates a 41-39 lead with 4:59 remaining.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals were in the midst of a 5 1/2-minute scoreless streak that was finally snapped when Sam Aguirre scored from inside to tie the game, 41-41, with 2:25 left.
But Prim took over from there. He hit two free throws, scored on a drving layin and set up John Cress for a basket that put Oceanside ahead, 49-45, with 21 seconds remaining. Cress hit two free throws in the final seconds to clinch it.
"This is a real good win especially down here," Christopher said. "A lot of it had to do with our playoff experience."
In the first half, Oceanside had little trouble handling Hoover's 2-2-1 zone press and jumped to an early 16-8 lead.
However, Aguirre, the county's eighth-leading scorer, began to find the range and scored 16 of his game-high 23 points before the break to help the Cardinals rally to within 31-29 at halftime.
Keith Williams, who finished with 13, took over in the third quarter leading Hoover on a 10-4 surge that gave the Cardinals control.
However, in the final quarter, the experience and the slow tempo finally paid off for the Pirates.
"We really did it together tonight," Prim said. "I'm just too happy."