Strong Second Half Propels Stuart Hall to Regional Finals
Strong Second Half Propels Stuart Hall to Regional Finals

One win away from a first-ever state finals appearance, Stuart Hall will face St. Mary's-Berkeley on March 17. Watch highlights from the Knights regional semifinals win at Kezar Pavilion.

Stuart Hall used a big second half, outscoring Liberty Ranch 42-27, to propel them to a third straight win in the Division IV CIF State basketball tournament and a berth in the regional finals on Saturday, March 17.  

In front of loud student sections for both schools at historic Kezar Pavilion, Stuart Hall and Liberty Ranch traded baskets in a spirited first half and headed to the locker room tied at 30-30.

Stuart Hall coach Charley Johnson says his team made a few defensive adjustments, which may explain why the Knights held Liberty Ranch to 9-of-41 shooting in the second half. "We talked about tightening our gaps," he says, "and it worked."

On the offensive end, freshman Nigel Burris paced the Knights with 20 points and six rebounds, while Milos Amos netted 16 points, Alex Byrd had 14 points and Jay Henry Ryan added 11. "Give them credit," Charley says. "They made some incredible shots."

Highlights from Stuart Hall's regional semifinals win over Liberty Ranch on March 13.

The Knights, who improve to 22-11 overall, advance to face St. Mary's-Berkeley (19-14) in a North Coast Section Tournament rematch. "Everyone understands we need two days of outstanding prep work to beat a very talented St. Mary's team," Charley says, adding that "It's a toss up. If we stay poised and buy into the game plan, we have a shot." St. Mary's won the first meeting 62-50.

Since that loss, ninth-seeded Stuart Hall has rattled off three straight wins, including a pair of road victories against higher seeded teams. The Knights traveled to Santa Cruz High School on March 10 to knock off the top seed, 55-51, inside a loud opponents' gym.

Following the regional finals on March 17, hosted by St. Mary's at 6 p.m., the NorCal champion will face the SoCal winner in the Division IV State Finals at the Golden 1 Center, home of the NBA's Sacramento Kings.

In its 18-year history, this is Stuart Hall's second trip to the regional finals. Two years ago, the Knights lost a triple overtime game to eventual Division 5 state champion St. Joseph Notre Dame. "To reach the same game in Division 4 is pretty spectacular," Charley says. "It should be a great game."

In the Headlines:

S.F. Chronicle: NorCal championship game story lines
S.F. Chronicle: NorCal semifinals game stories
Santa Cruz Sentinel: No. 1 Santa Cruz stunned by Stuart Hall in D-IV playoffs