A historic season came to an end for the Sage Hill School boys’ basketball team on Thursday night.
Five days after losing to Oxnard Santa Clara in the CIF Southern Section Division 5AA title game at Godinez High, the teams met in a rematch.
Nick Abbott had 20 points and eight rebounds, and the No. 4-seeded Saints led wire-to-wire in defeating No. 5 Sage Hill 54-44 in the quarterfinals of the CIF State Southern California Regional Division V playoffs at home.
“We knew that they were going to come back,” Abbott said of facing the Lightning again. “We had seen them in the bracket, and we felt that even though we beat them, there’s still a chance that they want to come back to our home court and try to beat us.
“We prepared well, and we handled business.”
Santa Clara (29-6) will travel to top-seeded Bakersfield Foothill (21-11) for its semifinal game on Saturday at 6 p.m. Foothill beat No. 8 Arleta 79-60 on Thursday.
Christian Oliver had five points, 11 rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots for the Saints. Ivan Barocio added 13 points and three assists.
The Lightning got off to a less than ideal start for a playoff game on the road. Santa Clara scored the first seven points of the game, and senior center Johnny King picked up his first foul just over a minute into the game.
Sage Hill appeared to be in a rush to get shots off, especially with the lengthy Saints looking to close out on defense against the three-point shot.
With 3:50 left in the second quarter, Abbott blocked a three-point attempt. He gathered the rebound and took the ball to the rim, where he was fouled after making the layup. The electrifying individual effort put Santa Clara up 25-10.
The Lightning trailed 30-17 at halftime.
Coming out of the locker room, Sage Hill got the ball in the paint to fuel its comeback attempt. King, who has committed to Pomona-Pitzer, had nine points in the third quarter. Sage Hill closed the gap to 39-34 heading to the final quarter.
“[The Saints] were getting baskets,” Lightning coach Billy Conlon said. “Then they were able to set their defense, which dictated the pace. When we were starting to get stops on defense, then we were able to get into our offensive sets, and I thought that we found a little bit better of a rhythm there.
“I thought that we were in good position there when we got [to within] five, but we just couldn’t get that big shot.”
Santa Clara went on an 11-2 run to begin the fourth quarter, establishing a 50-36 lead with 4:22 remaining.
King finished with 22 points, 17 rebounds and six blocks. Ryan Hosseinzadeh added seven points and 10 rebounds for the Lightning, and Jack Strohman chipped in with four points, six rebounds and three assists.
“It’s been a great time,” King said of his career with the Lightning. “Best season we’ve had in our school history, and I’m just happy that it was able to go on this long.”
CIF State Southern California Regional Division V playoffs
Santa Clara 54, Sage Hill 44
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Sage Hill 6 – 11 – 17 – 10 — 44
Santa Clara 16 – 14 – 9 – 15 — 54
SH – King 22, Hosseinzadeh 7, Frye 4, Strohman 4, Shayan-Smith 3, Green 2, Desbans 1, Martin 1.
3-pt. goals – Hosseinzadeh 1, Shayan-Smith 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.
SC – Abbott 20, I. Barocio 13, Mack 8, Juarez 6, Oliver 5, Ramos 2.
3-pt. goals – Mack 2, Oliver 1, I. Barocio 1.
Fouled out – None.