It was never close. In the rubber match between the two largest high schools in the city of Gilroy, Christopher High left no doubt as to who was the superior team. The Cougars started Friday’s game on a 9-1 run and was never threatened en route to a 76-48 win in a Central Coast Section Division II playoff opener. The No. 11 seed Cougars (12-13) advance to a second-round contest at No. 6 seed Wilcox today at 7 p.m.
Ten different players scored for Christopher, which received a game-high 22 points from Duncan Ellis, 15 from Ethan Fleener and 12 from Anthony Burns. Fleener had over a half-dozen blocks, including one stretch in which he swatted away three shots within a 30-second span covering two Gilroy possessions. The 6-foot-8 center also had a tremendous impact offensively, shooting an ultra-efficient 7-for-12 from the field.
Ellis was simply dynamite, finding open spots in Gilroy’s defense, especially in the second half when he curled to the free throw line to hit several jump shots from that area. Point guard Travis Romero played another tremendous floor game, setting the tone for a Christopher defense that harassed and swarmed Gilroy into countless turnovers.
The Cougars were simply too athletic and fast, and the frenetic pace played right into their hands in a first half that at times resembled more of a football game as players consistently went sprawling to the floor diving for loose balls or fighting for rebounds. Gilroy, which had a solid season in finishing 11-14, received 12 points from Drew Gumin and 11 from Mason Gumin. The Mustangs got to within five points on three different occasions, the last coming at 19-14 early in the second quarter.
However, on the the ensuing possession, Romero dribbled the length of the floor, zigzagging his way past four Gilroy players to the basket before making a slick pass to Fleener for an uncontested layup. Christopher defeated Gilroy 63-53 in the teams’ first meeting on Dec. 6 in the Bob Hagen Tournament before the Mustangs avenged that defeat with a 39-33 win 15 days later. The highly anticipated third matchup between the crosstown rivals had the promise of a game that would go down to the wire, but it never happened.