SAN DIEGO — The Serra High School boys' basketball team, enjoying its best season ever, will continue its pursuit of the San Diego Section 3-A championship tonight.
The Conquistadors, who won their first City Eastern League championship last week and then won their first-ever playoff game Tuesday night, 67-48, over Mount Carmel, will meet Sweetwater in a semifinal game at 8 o'clock at Mira Mesa High.
"I've been telling the kids that this is the biggest game of them all," Tom Williams, Serra coach, said. "Our dream was to make it to the Sports Arena (the site of the 3-A final next Saturday), and now we're only one game away."
Serra is 22-3. Sweetwater, which beat Mount Miguel, 88-48, in a first-round game Wednesday, is 19-6.
In its 10 years of existence, Serra has never enjoyed this kind of success. Led by seniors Steve Smith, Deven Moran and Anthony Moore, the Conquistadors beat Morse twice last week to win the league championship. Serra trailed Mount Carmel, 12-4, Tuesday before rallying to reach tonight's semifinal.
"These kids have made it exciting for a lot of people around here," Williams said. "We have tremendous team unity and the kids know what their goals are. Sweetwater has a fine club, but we feel if we play well, we can beat anybody."
In this weekend's other 3-A semifinal game:
El Capitan (17-4) vs. Poway (22-3), Saturday, 8 p.m., Serra High--The two-time defending 3-A champion Titans beat El Capitan, 81-48, earlier this season, as Jud Buechler scored 20 points and Dominick Johnson added 19. Those two figure to play a key role again Saturday, but this time the Vaqueros should make it a closer game. El Capitan played the first meeting without its leading scorer, 6-foot 2-inch forward Aaron Johnson (18.0 points per game).
"The (first) game was close for a while but then they blew us out with the press," Ross Furrow, El Capitan coach, said. "This time, we'll be ready for it. We recognize that on paper they're the best team in the county. But we think they're vulnerable in some places and we think we can win."
Poway reached the semifinals with an 85-42 win over Montgomery in the first round. El Capitan upended injury-riddled Morse, 52-49, in its first-round game. If Poway goes on to win the championship, it will be the first time in the San Diego Section history that any team has won three straight championships.
In the boys' 2-A semifinals:
Lincoln (16-6) vs. El Camino (23-3), tonight, 8 p.m., Serra High--El Camino, the top-seeded team in the 2-A playoffs, routed Mar Vista, 83-55, in the first round Tuesday night as Steve Heard scored 20 points and Kenny Crawford added 16. The Wildcats were the top-seeded team in the 2-A playoffs last year, however, and lost in the semifinals to Mission Bay.
Lincoln comes into tonight's game with an 11-game winning streak that includes Wednesday's 72-62 win over University in the first round. The Hornets outscored University, 27-16, in the fourth quarter to rally.
Oceanside (20-4) vs. Castle Park (23-1), Saturday, 8 p.m., Mira Mesa High--Oceanside, like Poway in the 3-A division, is trying for its third straight section title. The Pirates beat Mission Bay, 63-40, for the 2-A title last season.
Coach Bill Christopher's team relies on a patient, well-disciplined offense led by senior forward Junior Seau. Oceanside beat La Jolla, 40-36, in the first round Wednesday.
Castle Park has won 14 straight. The Trojans' only loss was to Carlsbad (like Oceanside, a member of the Avocado League) in the Point Loma Tournament. Castle Park held on to beat St. Augustine, 64-59, in the opening round.