PLAYA DEL REY The Saint-Bernard boys basketball team appeared to be in full control of the CIF South Section Division 1 quarterfinal match on Tuesday against Chaminade.
The Vikings finished the first half on a 16-4 streak to take a 13 point lead at halftime.
Chaminade (17-3) had a touching half-time encounter and came out fiery in the second half and stepped up the side of Colorado Kenneth Simpson, who scored 16 of his 26 points, a game-high. , to knock out St. Bernard 72-68.
Simpson has scored 10 of the Eagles’ last 15 points.
St. Bernard sophomore Tyler Rollison had the opportunity to level the game in the dying seconds but his layup fell apart and Simpson sealed the game with two free kicks with 3.6 to play. Chaminade edged St. Bernard 14 in the fourth quarter and will advance to Friday’s semi-final against Bishop Montgomery.
“We kind of blew up against each other at halftime and when we got out, but we quickly got everyone together,” said Chaminade coach Bryan Cantwell. “In the second half we came together as a team and it was great.”
Chaminade started quickly in the second half with a 13-4 streak. A 3 points from Keith Higgins and a layup from Simpson brought Chaminade to four at 47-43 4:25 to play in the third.
Saint Bernard responded with a run of his own over the Eagles 9-2 over the next three minutes and thanks to a 3-pointer from Rayneil Wright with 45 seconds left, the Vikings had restored a double-digit advantage, 56 -45.
Chaminade continued to come in the fourth quarter, starting a 14-1 streak to take his first lead (58-57) over a Simpson layup. Senior Colin Weems finished the race with a deep three to make 61-57 with 4:40 to go.
“We were sort of with our heads down before half-time. The guys started to fight, but that’s just the competitive spirit we needed, ”said Simpson. “We all want to win and we all have that fighting spirit. So once we got out (in the second half) we knew we had to get our energy back, especially in defense. Once we picked him up on defense it led to our offense and the game calmed down. ”
Saint-Bernard had not finished.
The Vikings scored the next five points, resuming the 62-61 lead with 3:45 remaining. But Simpson wouldn’t be denied as the senior scored the next six points, on a three-point game deep, then a three-point game to put Chaminade in a good position 67-63 with 1:50 to go.
Rice University’s five-point cutoff Damion McDowell reduced the Eagles’ lead to one with 31 seconds left, giving St. Bernard one last chance, but Chaminade’s defense held up.
“Nobody believed we would get this far this season,” said Rollison, who scored a high of 21 points. “I’m proud of my team for how well we’ve played this season. We just arrived a bit short tonight. This one hurts a lot, but we will come back next year and we will win it all. ”
St. Bernard head coach Jason Porter was optimistic despite the result.
“We have had an incredible season. We won a league title that no one expected us to do. It’s a great year for us to build on, ”Porter said. “We have a lot of things we need to work on. They were the best tonight unfortunately. We let some things slip on our responsibilities towards the end. They had two guys who wanted it more than us tonight (Simpson and Higgins).
Higgins finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds for Chaminade.
McDowell finished with 14 points and nine rebounds in a losing effort for St. Bernard.