The red-hot Bishop Diego boys’ basketball team increased its win streak to 12 games and advanced to the CIF-SS Division 3A semifinals with a 66-54 victory over Bell Gardens on Friday night at the Brickhouse.
Senior Tyler Williams led the way for the Cardinals with 27 points and Kai Morphy chipped in 18 points, including several clutch free throws down the stretch to put the game away.
“I feel like they know what we expect of them and sometimes when you have talent you tend to relax a little bit, which is why I feel like we had some ups and downs.” said Bishop Diego coach James Coronado. “They knew they had to turn it on these last couple games and obviously they did.”
Several of the seniors on the Bishop Diego roster were on the team when the Cardinals advanced to the CIF-SS Division 5A championship game two years ago and that playoff experience has paid dividends during this season’s run to the semifinals.
“It feels good. It’s my senior year. For all the guys that were on that team it’s our senior year so we feel good and confident about all these games,” Williams said. “At the start of the playoffs the plan was one-by-one. We knew we could get here.”
Bishop Diego built up its lead to 36-18 on a three-pointer by Morphy midway through the third quarter, but from there the visiting Lancers made their run to keep their season alive as they slowly trimmed the deficit.
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Bell Gardens senior guard Alan Rodriguez was fouled on a basket inside and converted the ensuing free throw cutting the Lancers’ deficit to 56-52 with 2:06 remaining in the game.
With the pressure mounting for Bishop Diego, Williams made the play of the game in the form of a deep three-pointer from the wing under immense pressure that shifted the momentum in the Cardinals’ favor and increased their lead to 59-52 with just over 90 seconds remaining.
“I work on it every day in the gym and I knew before the ball was swung to me that I was going to shoot it,” Williams said. “I’m confident every time I shoot the ball. That can be a plus and a minus at times when I’m shooting it’s not going in, but my brother and my coach always tell me it’s the shooter’s mentality.”
The Cardinals also received solid contributions on both ends of the floor from Brian Lopez, Bryan Trejo, Marcus Chan and Quran Gosset.
Bishop Diego (22-7) will take on St. Pius of Downey in the semifinals on Tuesday.
CIF-SS Division 4A Playoffs
Dos Pueblos 59, Hemet 58
Dos Pueblos survived a last second shot by Hemet and will host the winner of Workman and Valley Torah in the Semifinals on Tuesday.