Pinewood sophomore Aidan Lucero nailed the game- winning 3-pointer at the buzzer in overtime as the Panthers knocked off host Sacred Heart Prep, 60-58, in a West Bay Athletic League boys basketball matchup Tuesday night.
The Gators fell to 8-1 (13-6 overall) while Pinewood improved to 8-1 (16-3 overall). Both teams are now in a tie for first place. With Menlo
School's win over Priory on Tuesday (58-43), the Knights are now only one game out of first place.
"Now that we're tied with Pinewood it brings the league and everyone together a little more," said Sacred Heart head coach Tony Martinelli. "Pinewood is a good enough team to possibly run the table. We have to control what we can control and that's winning our games -- We can't lose ground."
The Panthers got off to a hot start and went on a 9-2 run. Sophomore guard Nathan Beak led the run with seven points. Sacred Heart started out cold in the first quarter, shooting only 2 for 12 from the field with just five total points.
The Gators took their first lead in the second quarter when junior guard James McLean hit a 3-pointer, giving his team the 25-24 edge nearing the end of the first half.
The Panthers went on a 13-2 run in the third quarter, led by junior David Bodine. Pinewood regained the lead in the third quarter when sophomore Roshan Bal stepped off the bench and drilled a 3-pointer, giving the Panthers the 33-32 advantage.
In the fourth quarter with the Gators up 52-51, junior forward Corbin Koch grabbed a defensive rebound and got fouled. While walking to the free- throw line, Koch slammed the ball on the ground and was called for a technical foul -- giving Pinewood two free throws with 1.6 seconds left.
Koch first made one of two free throws to give SHP a 53-51 lead. Then, Beak sank converted the technical fouls to make it a 53-53 game and force overtime.
"I'm not going to lie, I was pretty nervous," said Beak, who finished with 13 points. "I had to make them for my team. After all the effort they put in tonight I couldn't let them down; it was a great feeling."
With the Gators down 57-55, McLean came through and nailed a 3-pointer from the corner to give Sacred Heart a 58-57 lead with seven seconds left in overtime. McLean finished with a season-high 21 points.
With only seven seconds left on the clock and no timeouts left, the Panthers threw the ball down the court and found Lucero 25 feet away from the basket. He drained a 3-pointer, beating the buzzer and knocking the Gators out of sole possession of first place.
"I don't know how else to explain it besides overly joyous," said Lucero. "It was amazing."
"Credit to them for getting the ball up the floor and getting it to a good shooter," said Martinelli. "On our end we just have to learn from it and move ahead."
The Gators will visit rival Menlo on Friday night while Pinewood is set to take on Eastside Prep.
"We don't want to lose two games in a week so it really heightens things," said Martinelli. "We wanted this one and we didn't get it -- we have to prepare for Menlo."
Just up the street, the host Knights (7-2, 8-11) pulled away after a slow start to beat visiting Priory (3-6, 11-7). Ryan Young led the way with 12 points with Wes Miller and Bobby Roth adding 10 each.
Menlo held only an 8-4 lead after the opening period -- turning the ball over 10 times -- before opening an 11-point halftime lead. Young added 10 rebounds while Liam Dunn contributed eight points and seven boards to keep the Knights in position to challenge for a possible co-title.
Priory senior Connor Bonfiglio had a game-high 19 points as he made 11 of 12 free throws. Scott Harris added 14 points for Priory, which missed all 12 of its 3-point attempts.
In San Jose, Eastside Prep (2-7, 9-10) scored a season-low 20 points while falling to host Harker, 51-20.