In search of their first Central Coast Section championships, the Christopher High boys and girls basketball teams ran into buzzsaws against their St. Francis counterparts.
The West Catholic Athletic League power from Mountain View proved to be too much in their Division II title games Feb. 25 at Mission College in Santa Clara. The top seed Christopher girls lost 66-52 while the No. 3 seed boys were drubbed, 50-21.
Even with those losses, they advanced to the CIF NorCal playoffs by virtue of making the CCS championship contest. The NorCal games were played Feb. 28 and both CHS teams saw their season end. The girls received the No. 3 seed in the Division III bracket and lost to No. 3 Colfax 49-44, while the boys were the No. 11 seed and traveled to San Francisco where they lost to No. 6 Lincoln, 72-66.
The girls started fast against Colfax and took a commanding 32-21 lead into halftime, but were outscored 28-12 in the final two quarters. Losses aside, both teams had outstanding seasons. The boys team went a perfect 10-0 to win the Blossom Valley Athletic League Mount Hamilton East Division title.
Sophomore post Braddock Kjellesvig was simply dynamite, with a season-long field goal percentage well north of 60%, not often seen in the high school, college or pro game.
Senior guard Chigozie Okeke excelled in every phase of the game, and Rafael Urrabazo, Nico Ragasa and Sam Guenther all are projected to return next year along with Kjellesvig to give CHS another talented group to make a repeat run for the program’s first CCS championship.
The CHS girls, meanwhile, started 2-3 in Mount Hamilton Division play but finished strong, going 5-0 the rest of the way to finish in a tie for second place. They avenged losses to Branham, Evergreen Valley and Pioneer in the process, showcasing their grit, determination and talent.
They displayed those traits in flashes against St. Francis, but weren’t consistent enough on both ends of the floor to knock off the Lancers. Nat Javier and Sarah Arcelo scored 12 points each, and Morgan Blaettler finished with 12 points.
Arcelo produced a couple of memorable hustle plays in the penultimate game of her prep career, none better than when she swatted away what looked to be a sure breakaway layup attempt in the fourth quarter. The Cougars got off to a slow start, clanking their first four shots.
They trailed 10-0 before Kaycee Carrasco got them on the scoreboard with a 3-pointer with three minutes left in the opening quarter. Despite a productive second quarter that saw CHS outscore St. Francis 14-12, the uphill climb proved too decisive as every time it made a run, the Lancers had an answer.
The Cougars managed to hang around and cut their deficit to eight points, 55-47, with 2:30 left in the fourth quarter. However, that’s as close as they got. This marked the final season on the CHS sideline for coach Heather Ridley, and it was a memorable one.