If there was ever such thing as a stressful 17-point win, No. 3 seed Salesian’s 62-45 victory over No. 6 Grant would qualify.
“I never felt like we had it in the bag,” Salesian coach Bill Mellis said. “The film that we watched, we thought that they played extremely hard. We felt like that they wouldn’t go away. Even though it was always double digits, we never felt like it was a done deal.”
Salesian advances to play seventh-seeded Campolindo, which toppled No. 2 seed Capital Christian.
In its game, Salesian raced out to a 23-4 lead at the end of the first quarter. Grant responded by throwing out every defensive tactic in its bag, employing half-court presses, full-court presses, ball denial and double teams.
The Pacers’ plan to push the pace worked to perfection. Salesian’s offensive machine came to a halt as the turnovers piled up.
Grant had numerous scrappers on the defensive end, but Myles Haynes led the charge, clapping after deflections and generally making Salesian uncomfortable on offense.
Mellis spent a couple of moments with Haynes, who appeared to sustain an injury in the fourth quarter, after the game.
From the second quarter onward, Grant outscored Salesian 41-37.
The game had a similar feel to Salesian’s loss to Bishop O’Dowd a few weeks ago in which O’Dowd employed a press and zone to overcome a nine-point deficit.
espite the scrappy nature down the stretch, Salesian mustered enough offense to ward off an upset.
Jaden Lazo scored a game-high 24 points for Salesian, 16 of which came in an electrifying first quarter, and drained all five three-point attempts.
Te’Jon Sawyer recorded a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double while Shane Bell chipped in seven points and five assists.
Bell makes history for Pride
Speaking of Bell, the senior became the 11th player in school history to score 1,000 points. Bell, who scored all seven of his points in the first half and had a pair of emphatic dunks, was recognized for his efforts at halftime.
“He’s a special person and a special player,” Mellis said. “Couldn’t be happier for him. He’s been such a great leader, great person, great teammate. He deserves all the accolades that he’s gotten.”
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