Cole Preston of San Marcos (left) dribbles around Serra's Izik Ruffin.
SAN MARCOS Ben Perez scored 10 straight points in the second quarter to stake San Marcos High to a 14-point lead, then converted both ends of a one-and-one with eight seconds to play as the Knights hung on to defeat Serra 59-57 Saturday in a San Diego Section Division II boys quarterfinal playoff game at Mission Hills High.
The win propels the Knights into Wednesday’s semifinals against Hoover. Serra sees its season end at 17-11.
San Marcos (25-4) had what appeared to be a comfortable 57-50 lead with 28 seconds to play, but a 3-pointer by Izik Ruffin, a San Marcos turnover, and a pair of free throws by Brady Sirotta made it a two-point game with 10 seconds remaining.
That put the pressure squarely on Perez after he was fouled on the inbound pass.
“I’ve never been in a situation that severe,” Perez said. “I knew if I made one free throw the worst we could do was overtime. Make both, and it’s see ya later.
“I cleared my mind, thought about making both and focused.
“I know the semis will be tough, but we have our focus on getting to Viejas Arena (site of the finals).”
Perez’s free throws pushed the lead to four with Ruffin scoring on a driving layup for Serra in the final seconds.
“Serra hit some big shots down the stretch,” said San Marcos coach Dante Carey. “We had trouble defending them. They’re really quick and athletic.”
Perez led all scorers with 21 points, including four 3-pointers, and he had six rebounds. Riley Bell added 12 points and nine rebounds for San Marcos.