It was raining 3s on Tuesday night in San Mateo.
And while Serra and St. Francis combined for 22 3-pointers on the night, it was the Padres who finished with the red-hot hand from 3-point land.
After trailing 18 points midway through the third quarter, Serra (8-4 WCAL, 16-6 overall) rallied back to take down St. Francis 67-61. The Padres drained 11 3s in the contest, including a 9-of-15 clip from beyond the arc in the second half to light up the packed house at Morton Family Gymnasium on Senior Night.
“This is huge,” Serra guard Ryan Wilson said. “Senior Night — we had the crowd out, all of our families out. It was great to win.”
Wilson scored a team-high 17 points while totaling five 3s, including two in the fourth quarter, each giving the Padres the lead.
The senior’s first trey hit with 4:41 remaining in regulation to put Serra up 55-54, the team’s first lead since the first quarter.
St. Francis (6-6, 14-8) retook the lead on senior Kyle Rosecrans’s fourth 3-pointer. But after Serra junior Luke Bidinost missed the second of two free throws leaving the Padres trailing 57-56, forward Julius Alcantara grabbed a clutch offensive rebound and passed the ball out to Wilson for a splash down, giving Serra the lead for good.
“They pressure the ball a lot, they like to deny the lanes,” Wilson said. “We just wanted to take out time and move the ball. Good shots turn into great shots.”
It was a different story in the first half when St. Francis had the hot hand, going 15 of 24 from the field in the half, including 7 of 9 from 3-point territory. The Lancers got 3-pointers from four different players, with sophomore Isaiah Kerr totaling three 3s en route to scoring a game-high 19 points.
Serra jumped out to an early 14-4 lead, backed by six first quarter points by center Muti Shuman and 3s from Wilson and junior Dimitri Koutsogeorgas. But St. Francis would lead by the end of the opening quarter, closing it out on a 17-2 run, capped by a corner 3 from senior Trevor Leon.
“Just for the way we came out in the first half — which was absolutely awful, especially on Senior Night — to rally at halftime, the seniors really rallied,” Serra head coach Brian Carson said. “There was a couple choice words at halftime for them. … In the second half they really responded and hit some big shots, got into lanes, and created offense with our defense.”
One of the big swings came on the boards. The Lancers continued shooting lights out and dominated the boards before the break, outrebounding Serra 16-10 in the first half. St. Francis took a 38-26 lead into the locker room, and didn’t ease up at the start of the second half, opening on a 9-3 run.
Then a curious thing happened. Carson had to take the 6-foot-9 Shuman off the floor in order to turn up the tempo with a four-guard lineup. The Padres went on to win the rebounding war — much in part to the 5-8 Koutsogeorgas playing tenacious and physical defense in the post — ultimately topping the Lancers 29-27 on the boards.
Still, the Padres played within themselves, setting up shots via ball reversals with careful and consistent passing.
“We’ve tried to do that all year,” Wilson said. “Just play our pace of basketball and see what the defense offers us, and we can counter that.”
And after Kerr connected with a 3 to give St. Francis a 47-29 lead with 4:36 to go in the third quarter, Serra’s patience started paying off.
“Then they started making a bunch of shots in the second half and it just kind of snowballs,” St. Francis head coach Mike Motil said. “It’s a game of runs — right? We had a first-half run, into the third quarter. Then they made a run. Then they started making shots, feeling good about themselves. And you know what? That’s what this game is. You get a lot of momentum going. That’s just kind of how it works.”
Before leaving the floor, Shuman (11 points, eight rebounds) helped turn the tide with an offensive rebound and put-back to spark a 9-0 run, capped by a transition 3-pointer from the perimeter by senior Antonio Abeyta.
With the Lancers leading 54-47 in the fourth quarter, senior Damon Lewis went on a mini run, knocking down a 14-foot jumper, followed by a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 54-52.
Then Wilson hit the back-to-back dagger 3s, twice giving the Padres the lead. It wasn’t without plenty of passing help as Serra totaled 12 assists as a team. Wilson racked up four assists, with Koutsogeorgas and Abeyta adding three apiece.
“Those three right there, they have their own shooting group,” Carson said. “They play together every day in practice. We see it every day in practice, so it’s no shock to us.”
Serra fell short of the program’s all-time, single-game 3-point record of 14 set in 1999 against Palo Alto.
With the win, the Padres maintain their fourth-place standing, now two games ahead of fifth-place St. Francis in the West Catholic Athletic League. Bellarmine, Riordan and Mitty, all tied for first place, lead Serra by one game in the standings.