After CIF San Diego Open Division champion St. Augustine of San Diego got off to a slow start, it played Southern California’s top-ranked team from Bishop Montgomery of Torrance fairly evenly. The Saints, however, couldn’t overcome their start and lost 75-61 to the Knights on Friday night in the first round of the CIF Southern California Open Division playoffs.
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Oregon-state bound Stevie Thompson Jr. led Bishop Montgomery (31-1) with 29 points with his father, OSU assistant and former Crenshaw and Syracuse standout Steve Thompson, in attendance.
Bishop Montgomery jumped out to a 12-2 lead and led 43-26 at halftime. Although the Saints were a bit overmatched in terms of offensive prowess, they picked up the defensive intensity and cut their deficit to under 10 points (67-58) on a 3-pointer by junior forward Martin Tombe with 2:23 remaining. St. Augustine could get no closer, however, as head coach Mike Haupt cleared his bench to an ovation with just under a minute remaining.
The Saints will return all five starters from a team that drew an extremely tough draw while others that lost in San Diego Section’s playoffs play on in their original CIF state divisions. The placement of teams in that particular section has been a hot topic around the state, but Haupt didn’t want to focus on the controversy.
“We don’t worry about things we can’t control, we just had to make the best of the situation,” Haupt said about playing as the eighth and final seed of the SoCal Open regional. “The way we competed makes me very proud of this team. Now a talented young group has a great experience under their belt for next season.”
Bishop Montgomery will host No. 4 seed Mater Dei of Santa Ana, which defeated No. 5 seed Westchester of Los Angeles, 67-44. The game will be played at spacious Redondo Union High School as opposed to Montgomery’s more cozy gymnasium.
Ronnie Flores is the managing editor of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonMFlores