By Jeremy Balan
PACIFICA — After shooting 2-of-12 from the floor in the first quarter and only scoring six points against Thomas More School, Jewish Community High School of the Bay fell back on what it knows best — its senior frontcourt.
Forwards Benny Sosnick and Jonathan Gergen, who were held to just two points combined in the first quarter, scored 22 of Jewish Community’s final 31 points and put the Wolves in a position to win late.
But it wasn’t enough, as More quickly erased a 30-24 deficit in the fourth quarter to pull off a 41-37 win in the first round of the Private School Athletic League playoffs on Monday at Alma Heights Christian Academy.
“We did some really good things, but in the end, we just needed to make one more play,” said Jewish Community head coach Tim Kjar. “If we get one play, it might have been a different game.”
Sosnick had a game-high 14 points after going scoreless in the first quarter, and Gergen added 10, but it was More senior forward Lee Mauga who controlled the crucial fourth.
Mauga was held scoreless in the third quarter, but came out with purpose in the fourth, scoring the first seven points of the quarter to give the Knights (a 31-30 lead with six minutes remaining.
“When he gets the ball inside, he’s a monster,” said More head coach John Vogel. “He’s only [5-foot-10], but he’s tough to move. He’s a senior and he knows when he needs to pick up his game a notch.”
Mauga’s 13 points led the Knights, but it was a shot from his brother, sophomore Alex Mauga, that put them up for good.
After an Anthony Gumberg free throw gave Jewish Community a 37-36 lead, Alex hit a thee-pointer from the right corner to put the Knights ahead.
Still, More did all it could to keep the Wolves in the game, making only 2-of-6 free throws in the final 24 seconds. The Knights’ last free throw, though, by Lee with six seconds remaining, stretched the margin to four points, putting the game out of reach.
Even with the loss, Jewish Community qualifies for the Central Coast Section Division V tournament, but because the Wolves didn’t win their league, they will have to hope for an at-large bid. The CCS berth would be the first in school history.
“It would have helped if we got this win, but now we’ll just have to wait until [the selection] Sunday,” Kjar said. “I just know we’ll get in. I’d be shocked if we didn’t.”
Lee Mauga – 13
Luke Newman – 8
Dwight Dean – 6
Peter Hawkins – 5
Alex Mauga – 5
Benny Sosnick – 14
Jonathan Gergen – 10
Grant Fineman – 6
Anthony Gumberg – 5
Martin Stillman – 2