The Score: South City 49, El Camino 46.
The Star: South San Francisco High’s Marquis Johnson delivered a sensational second-half performance to lift the Warriors past their archrival in a Peninsula Athletic League tournament semifinal at Burlingame High. After not scoring a point in the opening half, Johnson heated up with 12 points in the third quarter, including three 3-pointers, and finished with a game-high 19 points on Friday afternoon.
The Turning Point: El Camino overcame an 11-point, third-quarter deficit to take a 46-45 lead with 1:37 left in the game when Justin Tuason – who caught fire with three 3-pointers in the final period – drilled a shot from at least five feet beyond the 3-point line on the right wing. Then with the crowd going crazy, Tuason went up to challenge 6-foot-6 South City post Niles Smith’s shot at the other end and fouled him at the rim – and woofed his pleasure at the hard denial. Tuason was called for a foul and a technical, and Smith and Johnson combined to hit two of the ensuing four free throws to put South City in front with 1:25 remaining. El Camino lost the momentum and couldn’t recover.
The Quote: “Inside, I was hoping we would. We were playing pretty good toward the end of the season. I hoped we’d have a chance to play for this.” – South City’s Marquis Johnson, on whether he thought the Warriors, who finished 2-8 in the PAL Bay Division, would advance to the league tournament’s championship game.
What’s Next? South City (14-13) meets host Burlingame (23-3) today at 7:45 p.m. in the PAL tournament final. The Panthers, who beat Terra Nova 56-47 in Friday’s later semifinal, are the three-time defending tournament champions and went 10-0 to win the PAL Bay crown this season. Meanwhile, El Camino (16-10) awaits its placement in the Central Coast Section playoffs.
The Bottom Line: No one could have predicted South City’s run to the PAL tournament final, but here the Warriors are – set to face Burlingame, which, of course, has been the consensus favorite from the first day of tryouts. Making the stunning three-day surge all the more enjoyable for the Warriors is the fact that they ousted their rival. Like Menlo-Atherton (South City’s quarterfinal victim), El Camino had beaten the Warriors twice in PAL Bay play. El Camino would have loved to have had a third shot at Burlingame, but the Colts appeared to get caught up in the emotion at the end of a tense semifinal and suffered a bitter defeat as a result.
South San Francisco 49, El Camino 46
SSF – 9 11 16 13 – 49
EC – 17 3 7 19 – 46
SSF: Estrada 2 0-2 4, Nzerem 3 3-4 10, Johnson 6 3-5 19, Taylor 3 1-2 8, Smith 3 1-2 7, Mack 0 1-2 1. Totals: 17 9-17 49.
EC: White 3 0-1 6, Tuason 3 4-5 13, Knight 3 5-6 11, Santos 3 0-0 8, Eclavea 1 0-0 2, Halal 2 0-1 6. Totals: 15 9-13 46.
3-point goals: SSF: Johnson 4, Nzerem, Taylor. EC: Tuason 3, Santos 2, Halal 2.
Records: South San Francisco 14-13. El Camino 16-10.