The Mercury News
Half Moon Bay fades after star Hutchins injured
SACRAMENTO >> For eight mesmerizing minutes, the Half Moon Bay boys basketball team had a start underdogs dream about.
The Cougars weren't just competing with Valencia, a vastly stronger opponent, they were playing with flair.
Half Moon Bay had an assist on each of its eight baskets in the quarter. The ball pinged from one corner to the other, up and down, Valencia's defenders a step slow and chasing jerseys as the quarter ended with the score tied.
Then it all fell apart, and Valencia won the Division IV state championship game, 89-59.
Jaeden Hutchins was Half Moon Bay's big star in the quarter, the 6-foot-8 wing making a layup off a cut before nailing two threepointers in the corner. But he injured his foot midway through the first, never returned to the game after the second quarter started.
Hutchins injured the same right foot he had broken a few months earlier, and Half Moon Bay's hopes of pulling off the upset were over.
“I went up to steal the ball, or tried to steal the ball, and I came down wrong on my foot,” said Hutchins, who sustained the injury midway through the quarter.
Valencia took control afterward, its size and athleticism too much for a Half Moon Bay team that does not have another player over 6-3.
The 6-6 Mikah Ballew scored a game-high 25 points, and 6-9 Bryce Bedgood had 22 in what was his father's last game as head coach.
Valencia alternated between fastbreaking and pounding the post like the Showtime Lakers its purple-and-gold uniforms harkened back to. The team shot 58 percent from the field and outrebounded Half Moon Bay 39-21 as a result.
“Let's just take the path of least resistance, let's be smart about it,” Valencia coach Bill Bedgood said. “They're just not very big, let's just get the ball inside.”
Gio Garduno-Martin led Half Moon Bay with 18 points, Drew Dorwin put in 13 points and guard Dio Lucido scored 11 points and had nine assists.
“It's been an amazing run for us,” Half Moon Bay coach John Parsons said. “I don't think we're playing here tonight if not for our community and their support.”
Half Moon Bay and Valencia were both making their first state championship game appearances in school history. After the thrilling first quarter, Valencia led 4332 at halftime, and 69-45 at the end of the third quarter.
“We were feeling like we were on a roll and good,” Lucido said. “The second quarter was kind of the opposite. They were slowing us down and then pressing us, which made it harder for us to run sets, which is where we succeed.”
After the community was rocked by a mass shooting in January, Parsons believed the team's run to the title game gave the town something to cheer about.
“It was a dark cloud over everything,” Parsons said, “and so for these guys to give our community something to be proud of, something to rally around, something that's been so extremely positive, I can't thank them enough for what they've done for the community.
“What they've done is bigger than basketball.”