The Sage Hill School boys’ basketball team played in its first CIF Southern Section quarterfinal playoff game in program history on Thursday night.
More history was made, both individually and from the team perspective.
Cooper Green scored a career-high 24 points on six three-pointers to lead No. 3-seeded Sage Hill to a 54-40 win in a Division 5AA quarterfinal game at Los Angeles Yeshiva University.
“I just got a bunch of open looks, and I was feeling it,” Green said. “I was holding my follow through up a little more, and it started to fall a little more for me. I was just getting good open looks.”
Sage Hill (21-10) will host La Puente Bassett in the semifinals on Saturday. Bassett defeated Loma Linda Academy 63-56 in a quarterfinal game on Thursday.
The Lightning have already notched their winningest season in program history.
“This is a special team,” said Jack Strohman, who had 12 points for the Lightning. “Back in November, we knew that we had the talent to do it. Johnny King, myself, we had a corps that really got along. We gelled from the start.
“We just came out every day in practice, every game and emptied the tank. That’s why we’re here.”
On Thursday night, Daniel Totaiv opened the scoring with a three-pointer for Yeshiva (13-11), getting the home crowd in the game early.
Sage Hill answered with an extended hot streak from beyond the arc. The Lightning hit six three-pointers as part of a 20-0 run that saw Sage Hill take a 20-3 lead on the opening possession of the second quarter.
“We knew that we needed to come out and get off to a fast start, especially on the road against a team that had been playing really well,” Lightning coach Billy Conlon said. “We knew that they had played two games on the road so far in the playoffs. They were going to come home and be really fired up.
“The whole place was fired up, which was an awesome environment. They hit the first three, and then we finish the quarter on a 17-0 run. We certainly took control early.”
Yeshiva followed with an 8-0 run, spearheaded by a three-point play and a free-throw line jumper by Albert Fallas. The Panthers cut the Lightning lead to 20-11, but Sage Hill was able to build its advantage back up with continued sharpshooting from distance.
Green made four of his six threes in the first half, including one from the left wing to beat the halftime buzzer. Sage Hill went into the locker room up 29-13.
Buzzer-beating three-pointers are becoming a habit for Green, who also made one to force overtime in the Academy League championship game against St. Margaret’s on Jan. 31.
“I know I just have to get it up, so it just happened to go in for me,” Green said.
Two free throws from Green extended Sage Hill’s lead to 36-19 at the 5:43 mark of the third quarter, but the Panthers engineered another run to make it 36-25.
Strohman connected on a baseline jumper from behind the backboard to stop the run, but Yeshiva had closed the gap to 41-30 entering the fourth quarter.
Yeshiva got as close as an eight-point margin in the fourth quarter, but the Lightning did not allow the Panthers to get any closer.
Johnny King had 10 points, eight rebounds, four blocked shots, three assists and two steals for the Lightning. Mitchell Frye added five points, four rebounds and three assists. Ryan Hosseinzadeh chipped in with three points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.
CIF Southern Section Division 5AA playoffs
Sage Hill 54, Los Angeles Yeshiva 40
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Sage Hill 17 – 12 – 12 – 13 — 54
Yeshiva 3 – 10 – 17 – 10 — 40
SH – Green 24, Strohman 12, King 10, Frye 5, Hosseinzadeh 3.
3-pt. goals – Green 6, Strohman 2, Hosseinzadeh 1, Frye 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.
Y – Fallas 14, Totaiv 12, Meisels 10, Silvera 2, Ibgui 2.
3-pt. goals – Totaiv 2, Fallas 1, Meisels 1.
Fouled out – Fallas.