Under the playoff system used two years ago in San Diego Section high school boys' basketball, El Capitan and Mission Bay would not have met in the postseason.
Going into Monday's Division II first round, Mission Bay (16-7, 7-3 in the City Western League) would have competed in the Class 2-A playoffs. El Capitan (9-17, 2-6 in the Grossmont 3-A League) would have had its season over by now.
But this year, like last season, every team is eligible for the playoffs, where 60 games over a two-week period will determine five champions.
Mission Bay's winning percentage was 32% higher than El Capitan's. And, for three quarters Monday, it looked as if the Buccaneers would win handily.
Mission Bay led by 25 points early in the fourth quarter, but held on for a 67-59 victory at home to advance to the second round Thursday against eighth-seeded Crawford.
"We were a little late and a little short with the comeback," said Jim Gleboff, El Capitan's coach.
But the effort was valiant. Jeremy McGarity scored 12 of his game-high 25 points and Eagle LaChappa (nine points) made three three-pointers in the fourth quarter as El Capitan outscored Mission Bay, 23-6, over the final 7 minutes.
With runs of five and 11 points, El Capitan pulled to within, 63-52, with 3 minutes left. After Peter Wilson made two free throws and Brett Grebing one, El Capitan scored seven in a row to pull within, 66-59. But only 14 seconds remained. A Ken North free throw ended the scoring.
For three quarters, Mission Bay dominated behind the shooting and passing of Wilson. The 5-foot-8 point guard had 19 points (only two in the fourth quarter) and 11 assists. Six-foot-six center Brett Grebing added 14 points and 11 rebounds. Keith Berkley and Jim Thomas had 10 each.
Wilson, known more for his passing and ballhandling skills than his scoring ability, has a season-high of 20 points against Kearny. But come playoff time, Wilson, a senior, seems to shine. Last season, in a 61-51 first-round playoff victory over San Pasqual, Wilson had 23 points.
"To me, it's crunch time. That's where I get my motivation," said Wilson.
Said Mission Bay Coach Mike Seaman, "He goes unnoticed for the contributions that he makes. But tonight, he had a great game."
Mission Bay won seven of its last eight league games to finish in a first-place tie with La Jolla.
BOYS Pos. Team (League): Record
1. Torrey Pines (Palomar): 27-1
2. Lincoln (City Central): 25-1
3. Poway (Palomar): 19-4
4. Sweetwater (Metro): 24-2
4. San Diego (City Central): 17-4
6. El Camino (Avocado): 20-5
7. Monte Vista (Grossmont 3-A): 17-4
8. Valhalla (Grossmont 2-A): 17-8
9. Mt. Carmel (Palomar): 16-8
10. Point Loma (City Eastern): 14-10
Best of the rest--Southwest 20-7, Oceanside 12-10, Helix 17-6, Serra 14-9
GIRLS Pos. Team (League): Record
1. Point Loma (City Eastern): 26-1
2. Vista (Palomar): 22-3
3. Santana (Grossmont 2-A): 21-2
4. Mira Mesa (City Eastern): 18-7
5. OLP (City Central): 19-5
6. Ramona (Avocado): 18-3
7. Bonita Vista (Metro): 20-5
8. San Marcos (Avocado): 18-6
9. Poway (Palomar): 17-9
10. Patrick Henry (City Eastern): 17-7
Best of the rest--Mission Bay 18-7, Castle Park 19-6, Helix 11-9, Lincoln 16-4