Max Sheldon poured in a career-high 32 points and the San Marcos High boys basketball team advanced out of the opening round of the CIF-SS Division 2A playoffs with an 89-75 victory over La Salle on Wednesday night.

Max Sheldon elevates towards the rim. Credit: ENTENZA

The Royals pushed the pace and exploded offensively behind a barrage of three-pointers to pull away in the second half.

“It was flowing tonight. If we are knocking down (three-pointers) we are hard to beat because that is not something we bank on,” said San Marcos coach Jelani Hicks. “One thing we were really big on this week in practice is staying in attack mode. If we can get three or four guys doing what they do the whole game we’re tough to guard and I think tonight was a glimpse of that.”

John Connolly caught fire early for San Marcos with three first quarter three-pointers, the last of which gave the Royals a 19-7 lead with 3:05 remaining in the opening period. 

However, La Salle slowly chipped away at the deficit and evened the score at 32-32 on a driving layup that resulted in a three-point play by Uriah Foster midway through the second quarter. 

A short jumper by Shakir Ahmad regained the lead for San Marcos as the Royals closed the first half on a 12-5 run to take a 44-37 lead into the locker room at halftime.

“We watched a good amount of film on La Salle and we recognized that they don’t stop,” Hicks said. “Like number 21 (Uriah Foster) and  number one (Naeem Lewis) we knew they weren’t going to stop attacking the whole game.

“Yeah they went on a run, but we never got down on ourselves and our play didn’t suffer. We just kept putting it on them.”

Sheldon made sure San Marcos extended its lead with eleven points in the third quarter alone as the Royals outscored La Salle 25-15 in the period to take a 69-52 lead into the fourth quarter.

“I hit two three-pointers in the second quarter and after that they started feeling really good and I told my teammates if I’m open to try and hit me and they were falling,” Sheldon said. “All the credit to my teammates they were looking for me and I knocked them down so it was a great team victory.”

Collins finished with 22 points and Ahmad chipped in 18 points in addition to Sheldon’s big night. 

San Marcos will travel to Capistrano Valley Christian for a second round game on Friday. 

Rio Mesa 60  Bishop Diego 57

Fresh off a Tri-Valley League championship, the Bishop Diego Boys basketball team mounted a furious fourth quarter rally, but fell short in its first CIF-SS Division 4A first round match on Wednesday night.

Matthew Cunningham and Kai Morphy finished with 20 and 18 points respectively, but the Cardinals struggled at the free throw line and on the interior defensively.

Matthew Cunningham swarms Rio Mesa ball handler.

“I think we carried over the momentum from last year and beat some really good teams in the Tri-Valley league,” said Bishop Diego coach James Coronado. “We just weren’t sharp today and we had a few bounces that didn’t go our way and sometimes that happens. Credit to Rio Mesa they played hard and they were definitely ready.”

Agoura 78 Santa Barbara 62

The Dons got off to a rough start and dropped their opening round game to Marmonte League champion Agoura. 

“We did not boring our A game tonight in the first half, too many turnovers and too many missed shots in the paint” said Santa Barbara coach Corey Adam. “Credit to Agoura for tough man to man defense.

Miles Thompson and Dylan Borgeson paced the Dons with 14 and 13 points respectively.


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