The Score: Serra 44, Oak Grove 38.
The Star: Serra High forward Henry Caruso recorded his second straight double-double as the Padres won the Central Coast Section Division I semifinal game at Independence High. In addition to his 12 rebounds, the sophomore finished third among Padres with 12 points, trailing Connor McGrath (15) and Dalyn Pacheco (14, including a dunk). Caruso’s well-rounded game helped push Serra into the Division I championship game for the second consecutive season.
The Turning Point: Sixth-seeded Oak Grove (17-12) took a 38-37 lead with 2:30 left in the game after Nate Vieira followed an ankle-breaking deke by hitting a mid-range jumper. But then Pacheco put No. 2 seed Serra (21-8) in front to stay with a basket in the paint with 1:22 remaining. McGrath added a pair of free throws and then got a critical steal at halfcourt and went in for a layup while drawing a foul. He converted the three-point play, his ninth free throw of the physical contest, for the final margin.
The Quote: “We have played in close games all year throughout the (West Catholic Athletic League). The WCAL helps us out so much. We knew what to do, to keep our composure and get the win.” -- Serra guard Connor McGrath, on his team avoiding overly physical play that would have put Oak Grove on the free-throw line in the emotional final minutes of the intense affair.
What’s Next? After catching its collective breath following a victory that caused its many fans to break out the antacids, Serra heads to the CCS Division I championship game. The Padres meet No. 4 seed Santa Teresa on Saturday at 8 p.m. at Santa Clara University. Santa Teresa (21-7) won 54-52 over top-seeded Piedmont Hills (25-4) in Wednesday’s later semifinal at Independence.
The Bottom Line: Serra is within one win of the school’s sixth CCS title, and first since 2006. The Padres also won in 1991, 2000, 2004 and 2005. … The Padre offense struggled in the first half, committing nine turnovers to Oak Grove's two. But the defense delivered -- Serra trailed just 26-25 at the break. … Serra reversed the trend at the half, losing the ball only three times down the stretch. _____________________________________________________________________
Serra 44, Oak Grove 38
OG – 15 11 4 8 –38
S – 10 15 5 14 – 44
O: Vieira 7 1-3 15, Rodriguez 3 6-7 13, Bassett 2 0-0 6, Reynoso 1 2-2 4, Taylor 0 0-2 0. Totals 13 9-14 38.
S: McGrath 3 9-10 15, Pacheco 6 1-3 14, Caruso 5 2-2 12, Barsocchini 1 0-0 2, Swinney 0 1-2 1. Totals 15 13-18 44.
3-point goals: O: Bassett 2, Rodriguez. S: Pacheco.
Records: Oak Grove 17-12. Serra 21-8.