Source: OC Register
Sage Hill boys basketball pushed by El Modena but wins in OT in CIF-SS quarterfinals Manny Alvarez %%item_date%% %%item_source%%
NEWPORT BEACH – Despite having a large lead in the second half, the Sage Hill boys basketball team couldn’t put El Modena away Tuesday night in the CIF-SS Division 4A quarterfinals.

The Vanguards rallied and had the last shot with a chance to win, but they missed at the buzzer and Sage Hill held on for a 65-63 victory in overtime at Sage Hill.

Sage Hill (14-11) will be on the road Friday to play Littlerock in the semifinals. Littlerock defeated No. 1 seed Leuzinger 60-59 on Tuesday.

Sage Hill also clinched a spot in the CIF Southern California Regional playoffs.

“We knew they were going to fight,” Sage Hill coach D’Cean Bryant said of El Modena. “A lot of teams didn’t think they would get this far. I’m pretty sure that is what they were riding their emotions on. They weren’t supposed to be here, they have nothing to lose and credit to them. They did a great job of executing and attacking the weak points that we had, and we had to make adjustments.

“We made the right reads and luckily made the stops. El Modena is a tough team. They play with a lot of heart. We knew they would do anything to stop Carter (Bryant). Gage (Talleur) and Johnny (Mayhew) stepped up.”

After a strong start by the Lightning, El Modena (19-12) finished the first quarter with a 12-3 run, but Sage Hill climbed back thanks to a set of powerful dunks from Carter Bryant to put them up 24-21 at halftime.

Bryant scored 19 points to go with a game-high 12 rebounds and was helped by a solid first half from Talleur, who scored 16 points with five assists.

Sage Hill began to pull away in the third quarter. The Vanguards, who were in the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons, feel behind by 14 points but eventually tied the game and sent it to overtime.

The Lightning took a four-point lead in overtime thanks to Mayhew, who scored 20 points and grabbed six rebounds.

Sage Hill's Johnny Mayhew scored 20 points and grabbed six rebounds in an overtime victory against Sonora in the CIF-SS playoffs Tuesday, feb. 14. (Photo by Manny Alvarez, Contributor)
Sage Hill’s Johnny Mayhew scored 20 points and grabbed six rebounds in an overtime victory against Sonora in the CIF-SS playoffs Tuesday, feb. 14. (Photo by Manny Alvarez, Contributor)

“Those two were locked in from the start of the game,” Bryant said of Mayhew and Talleur. “They are on another level. I wish I would’ve played better, but those two guys pulled us for the win tonight. If we didn’t have them, it would’ve been different.”

El Modena rallied again in overtime and had a chance to win the game following a missed free throw by Bryant, but Brady Lemnitzer’s 3-point bounced off the rim as the buzzer sounded.

Lemnitzer scored 15 points. Jaden Esparza scored nine points to go with seven assists while Drew Rodriguez scored 16 points.

Nick Weed scored 20 points with four blocks for the Vanguards, who won their first league title in 30 seasons.

“Heck of a season,” El Modena coach Matthew Henderson said. “This team has exceeded our expectations in a lot of ways. Nineteen wins, league championship and making it to the quarterfinals, that is a heck of a season.

“We had plenty of opportunities and we let them go. I think we were down 14 at one point and battled back to get it to overtime. We had that great shot that almost went it. They played their butts off tonight. I’m awfully proud of this group.”

Shaan Patel scored 10 points for Sage Hill.

“Hustling and rebounding will be our main focus,” Mayhew said of the game against Littlerock. “We had some rebounds we should’ve got, but we didn’t. Second-chance opportunities weren’t really good and we have to work on that. If we can fix that up, then we’re good.”

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