SANTA CLARA — Maybe giving up a 9-0 run to end the first half was the best thing that could have happened for the Half Moon Bay Cougars.
Half Moon Bay opened the third quarter with incredible ferocity, outscoring Santa Cruz 25-5 en route to a 72-58 win to claim the Central Coast Section Division IV boys’ basketball title, the program’s first since 1996.
Held to eight points in last year’s championship loss, Ethan Menzies dominated Saturday night, scoring 38 points, including 16 in that dominant third quarter as No. 1-seeded Half Moon Bay (24-5) exorcised the demons of years past.
They hardly needed to shoot from outside as Menzies was so dominant in the paint. He scored 14 in the first half, and with Santa Cruz’s Javier Felix picking up his fourth foul 12 seconds into the third quarter, there was little resistance as the 6-foot-7 center imposed his will. With 1:52 left in the period, Menzies threw down perhaps the dunk of the year, evading one Santa Cruz defender and posterizing another for the 3-point play.
The lead was 55-37 through three quarters and grew to 20 early in the fourth on a Tomberlin finger roll. Though Santa Cruz did cut the lead to 10 on a Max DeHart 3-pointer with 1:24 left, Menzies would hit a pair of free throws to cap off his monster night and pull down his 13th and 14th rebounds to finish the game with the ball in his hands.
While the Cougar football team had celebrated three consecutive section titles, Menzies and point guard Sam Treanor (10 points) hadn’t experienced the glory themselves until Saturday night at the Leavey Center. The two had been supporting their teammates and friends on the gridiron, along with the rest of the basketball roster, but HMB had yet to see such successes on the hardwood with this group.
“I don’t mean to sound like a parent, but it’s been great to watch Ethan grow,” said Tomberlin. “Most of us had been playing together since kindergarten, but he was living in Wyoming and didn’t move back until the end of middle school. He’s been such a huge part of what we’ve done here.”
“We talked about a few things that we wanted to change in the second half defensively,” said Parsons. “Jake started that for us.”
Santa Cruz got 14 points from Max DeHart, 12 from Jeremiah Elmore and 11 from Makai Norman, one of six sophomores on the roster. It was an Elmore put-back that gave the Cardinals the lead going into halftime.
Half Moon Bay will move up to Division III for the CIF Northern California tournament, starting Wednesday. The Cougars earned the No. 5 seed in the bracket and will host No. 12 Rio Americano-Sacramento at 7 p.m.