Win and advance.
That’s the goal of every team come playoff time, and the Christopher High boys and girls basketball squads did just that on Tuesday as they played back-to-back at home in the Central Coast Section Division II quarterfinals.
The top-seed CHS girls took the court first and beat No. 9 Sobrato, 47-39. The No. 3 seed CHS boys followed with a 50-43 victory over No. 6 Leigh. They advance to semifinal games on Thursday. The girls play No. 4 Valley Christian at Gunn High in Palo Alto at 7 p.m., while the boys play at No. 2 Hillsdale in San Mateo at 5:30 p.m.
A win earns them a spot in the CIF NorCal playoffs, so it’s a crucial time. Both CHS teams were solid in their quarterfinal matchups. The girls used a big second quarter surge, outscoring Sobrato 21-11 in the frame to take command. The Cougars (18-5) extended the lead to 35-19 in the opening minute of the third quarter and seemingly headed for a blowout victory.
But they let Sobrato hang around and the lead was reduced to four points, 40-36, with five minutes remaining. However, as she did all game, Nat Javier had the answer. No sooner had Sobrato scored then Javier was already down the other end of the floor scoring on a runner. CHS never let the lead dip below five the rest of the way.
On four different occasions, Javier (13 points) scored immediately after a Sobrato bucket, preventing the Bulldogs from going on a huge run. The dynamic CHS point guard led the way and was backed by Alyssa Lopez, who scored 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting from 3-point range and Morgan Blaettler, who had eight.
Sarah Arcelo and Kaycee Carrasco had seven points each, and Brooke Sabala made the usual hustle plays she’s known for. The Cougars are in the midst of another terrific season, finishing in a tie for second place in the ultra-competitive Blossom Valley Athletic League Mount Hamilton Division.
And the CHS boys made sure the home fans would leave happy as they led nearly wire to wire. After falling behind to Leigh 4-0 in the opening minute, the Cougars closed the first quarter on a 13-0 run and never saw the lead dip below four points the rest of the way.
Sophomore post Braddock Kjellesvig was superb yet again, finishing with 16 points on 8-for-12 shooting, Chigozie Okeke had 11 points while playing a superb floor game, and Gurshan Nahal had nine points. The Cougars won despite taking no free throw attempts, a byproduct of them hoisting up 29 3-point shots, making 10 of them.
Nahal and Okeke both converted three shots from beyond the arc, and Rafael Urrabazo had two to lead the barrage from beyond the arc. The Cougars were at their best when they had the high-low action working, with Okeke connecting with Kjellesvig three times for alley-oop layups.
The two are the team’s biggest difference-makers, with Kjellesvig being remarkably accurate and crafty inside and Okeke directing things on the perimeter with his ball-handling, on the ball defense and ability to get to the basket off dribble penetration or pull up for jumpers from the elbow areas and anywhere on the floor.
The matchup with Leigh was intriguing because it featured the two A-league league champions from the BVAL Mount Hamilton divisions. CHS won the Mount Hamilton East and Leigh the Mount Hamilton West with no crossover games between the divisions.