It’s hard to imagine a more electric environment than what transpired on Thursday night during the CIF-SS Division 5A quarterfinals matchup between Cate and Carpinteria.
A raucous crowd packed the Carpinteria High Gymnasium as the crosstown rivalry was magnified by the specter of an elimination game. In the end, it was Carpinteria that pulled away in the final minute of the game to secure a 51-46 victory.
“That’s what high school sports are all about. You give kids a chance to play in a game like this,” said Carpinteria coach Corey Adam. “For both sides they’ll never forget this. It’s amazing.”
As for Cate coach Andy Gil, a loss to his crosstown rival in the quarterfinals did little to dampen his spirits. Gil welcomed his son Crew Andres Gil into the world earlier in the day and the first-time father was glowing even in defeat.
“The baby was born at two in the morning. I haven’t slept since,” Gil said. “My wife as a coach when she looked at me and saw the time she was like ‘you got to go beat Carp’ so she is very supportive, my baby is healthy and happy. My wife is doing great.”
Cate started the game on a prolonged shooting slump and trailed 9-2 at the end of the first quarter. The Carpinteria lead ballooned up to 16-4 early in the second quarter, but Cate closed the first half on a 15-9 run to cut its deficit to 25-19.
The third quarter went back and forth, but a strange sequence at the end of the quarter swung the momentum in Cate’s favor. With Carpinteria leading 32-31, Mason Oetgen was fouled driving to the basket and scored through contact to earn a three-point play opportunity.
Oetgen missed the free throw, but Scott Holmes corralled the loose ball near mid court and heaved a 40-foot shot that went in as the third quarter buzzer sounded, increasing the Cate lead to 36-32.
The fourth quarter belonged to Noah Nuno, who finished with a game-high 23 points, including 11 in the final stanza
Nuno drained a three pointer with just over two minutes to play that increased the Carpinterial lead to 43-39 and converted 8-of-10 free throws in the fourth quarter.
“It’s fun that it happened. This is good for the community. These games are fun. It rivals the Santa Barbara verse San Marcos game for sure.”
Cate took one more lead, 46-45 when Nkemka Chukwumerije found Parker May for a layup with just under a minute to play in the game. From there Cate went 0-for-4 from the free-throw line while Carpinteria converted 6-of-8.
The Warriors will host either Avalon or Oakwood in the semifinals Saturday.
“That was the most intense game I’ve ever played in my life,” Nuno said. “It was so fun being out there with the crowd going crazy.”
“I actually told Corey at the beginning of the season that ‘we’re going to see you in the playoffs,’” Gil said. “I knew we were in the same division and I knew it would kind of work out like that.