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Kai Morphy knocked down six clutch free throws in the final minute of regulation and Bishop Diego upset second-seeded Estancia 49-46 in the quarterfinals of the CIF-SS Division 5AA playoffs on Tuesday night at the Brick House.
WIth the victory, the Cardinals punched their tickets to the semifinals for the first time since the 2013-14 season.
“At the beginning (of the season) we weren’t clicking. We had a few guys out. We had a few transfers waiting and had a few guys sick, but we knew we had the right stuff and it came together in the end,” said Bishop Diego head coach James Coronado.
Bishop Diego (20-11) has won 11 of its past 13 games, but a matchup against Estancia, which came in with a 27-3 record still appeared to be a daunting task on paper. The Cardinals relied on stout defense and a determined effort from their top two scorers Kai Morphy and Matthew Cunningham, who finished with 20 and 14 points respectively.
“The fact that we kept shooting and didn’t worry about the last shot kind of kept us in this game,” Morphy said, “We kept shooting and shooting and trusting our shot and it came through for us in the end.”
It was a slow start offensively for both teams, but a three-pointer by Cunningham just before halftime put the Cardinals ahead 19-16 at the break. The Cardinals went on to open the second half on a 12-4 run to take a 31-20 lead on a driving layup by Cunningham midway through the third quarter.
Estancia responded with a 11-2 run of its own capped off by a three-pointer by Marvin Harry, cutting its deficit to 33-31 with 1:23 remaining in the third quarter. However, a steal and layup by Cunningham as the third quarter buzzer sounded gave Bishop Diego a 35-31 lead heading into the final stanza.
Marcus Chan boosted Bishop Diego with a three-pointer late in the shot clock that gave the Cardinals a 40-33 lead with 6:19 remaining in the fourth quarter, but Estancia came roaring back again and took its final lead of the game 44-43 at the 2:30 mark of the fourth quarter on a three-pointer by Brandon Pearson.
The Cardinals dug in defensively late in the fourth quarter and Morphy salted the game away at the free throw line. Bishop Diego will host Vistamar of El Segundo on Friday, beginning at 7 p.m.