As the game between Cathedral Catholic and St. Augustine draws to a close and it is clear the Saints will win, St. Augustine teammates Brent Jones, Nate Samaniego and Brynton Lemar start to celebrate as Xavier Williams of Cathedral looks on.
The lights went out five times during warm-ups for the fifth renewal this season of the best rivalry in San Diego County.
But it took St. Augustine High until the fourth quarter to turn out Cathedral Catholic’s lights for the season.
Led by a 14-point, fourth-quarter performance by junior Trey Kell, St. Augustine survived the power outages that affected the neighborhood surrounding Rancho Bernardo High on Tuesday for a 55-45 victory over Cathedral Catholic in the Southern California Regional semifinals.
“It wasn’t that we put the ball in Trey’s hands in the fourth,” St. Augustine coach Mike Haupt said. “Trey put the ball in Trey’s hands.
“He had one of the best quarters ever.”
Kell’s efforts spurred the top-seeded Saints (27-4) to a 25-13 edge in the fourth quarter to erase a 32-30 deficit after three quarters.
“We’ll do whatever it takes to get to the state finals,” Kell said. “This is our goal and has been since before we even practiced once.
“In the fourth quarter, I saw my first shot go down, so I kept going. We were in a little bit of a scoring drought because they changed defenses, and we were sloppy with the ball.
“We had to stay calm and play as a team. If we stay composed, we’re just fine.”
It was the 12th consecutive victory for Saints and the second win over the Dons in five meetings, including a 62-36 win in the San Diego Section finals March 2.
“Cathedral is a great team,” Haupt said. “This is exactly what I thought this game would look like.
“This is a big deal for us. These kids wanted to win the state title and now they’re one win away from getting a shot at it.”
Now Saints is on to Saturday’s regional finals at 8 p.m. at Colony High against No. 2 West Hills Chaminade, which defeated Simi Valley Royal.
Defense is what forced Cathedral Catholic (30-5) into a tough shooting night. The Dons were 17 of 50 for the game with a 5-for-8 effort in the third quarter being their best stanza.
St. Augustine has been giving up just 36 points on defense in the postseason.
Senior Xavier Williams was the lone Don to solve Saints’ defense. He scored 23 points, along with 10 rebounds, as only four Dons scored in the game. Niksha Federico had 10 points.
While Kell led the way, senior Brynton Lemar added 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds for Saints.
But it was a 3-pointer by Brent Jones with 2:46 to play that sparked the final push to victory.
Brandon Michel’s basket had pulled the Dons close at 43-39 before Jones, who was 1 of 7 before his last shot, drained a 3-pointer to push the lead back to seven points.
“I knew one of his shots would fall and it came at a great time,” Kell said of his teammate’s bucket.
After freshman Martin Tombe’s layup with 2:18 to go, St. Augustine was ahead 48-41 and the Saints hit seven of eight free throws down the stretch.
“I wasn’t nervous for this one,” Kell said. “I was more excited. I was looking forward to playing this game.
“The crowd was alive before we even came out for warm-ups. They were into it and I really love playing in that atmosphere.
“I’m kind of used to games like this against Cathedral. It’s my eighth time to face them.”