By Jeremy Balan
It didn’t take long to figure out Aptos High School’s boys basketball team was overmatched on the road against St. Ignatius in the Central Coast Section Division III quarterfinals.
The third-seeded Wildcats jumped out to a 14-0 lead just 2 minutes in to the game, led 29-2 late in the first quarter and cruised to a 74-40 win on Saturday.
“We did it two other times this year, once against Santa Cruz in a quarter and in the second quarter against Serra,” St. Ignatius head coach Tim Reardon said of the first-quarter effort. “They can do it, it’s just a matter of sustaining it, and we’ve been waiting for so long to play a basketball game and they had to ride a bus 2 hours from Santa Cruz. It was the perfect storm for us to have a quarter like that.”
St. Ignatius (11-15) shot 13-of-16 from the floor and 3-of-4 from 3-point range in the first quarter, and got easy baskets in transition off stellar defensive performances from guards Albert Waters and Trevor Dunbar.
The pair finished with just nine total points, but combined for five of the Wildcats’ nine steals in the first quarter. With the ball in the open court, Dunbar dished out five assists in the first quarter, while Waters, listed at 5-foot-8, collected a team-high seven rebounds.
“It was [assistant] coach [Rob] Marcaletti that decided we were going to make somebody else other than their point guard handle the ball and they couldn’t handle the pressure,” Reardon said. “This team won their league. They’re not push-overs. I can’t explain it. It was just one of those nights.”
Twelve St. Ignatius players scored and three finished in double figures, led by seniors Nick Johnson and Michael Loginoff, who were tied for the team lead with 13 points apiece, as the Wildcats had their highest point total of the season.
SI shot just over 55 percent from the floor, while the Mariners (21-7) compounded the early turnovers with ice-cold shooting. Aptos shot 20 percent from the floor through three quarters and trailed 61-25 heading in the the fourth.
“They got turnovers, were hitting their shots and came out very aggressive,” Aptos head coach Joe Smith said of the Wildcats. “We’ve had a really good season and we would definitely like to think that this was an off game for us.”
The Wildcats advance to a semifinal matchup against second-seeded El Camino, which took down Santa Cruz in another quarterfinal game on Saturday. The Colts defeated SI 54-44 in non-league play on Dec. 16, but the circumstances will be slightly different for the playoff game.
Their first meeting was standout St. Ignatius forward Stephen Domingo’s first game back from a broken wrist and the Wildcats had just returned several players from the CCS-championship-winning football team.
“They’re damn good and Santa Cruz was a tough matchup for them, but I think we can get them if we play really well,” Reardon said of El Camino. “We might have to play like we did tonight to do it.”
Reardon compared his team’s level of play in the win over Aptos to their upset win over Serra in the regular season several times, but tempered any excitement his team may have heading into the semifinals.
“When everything is firing and looking to make each other better, they are really good,” Reardon said. “We just haven’t been able to be consistent. Last time we played a game like this, we came out [in the next game] and laid a big dump on the floor against Bellarmine. We of course mentioned that to the players, so they won’t get too excited.”
Nick Johnson – 13
Michael Loginoff – 13
Stephen Domingo – 12
Daniel MacLean-Vernic – 8
Trevor Dunbar – 7
Jake Harrell – 13
Justin Montoya – 13
Cole Welle – 9
Ryan Parker – 3
Tyler Clark – 2