Anwar Ayyad had the hot hand for the No. 7 seed Aptos High boys basketball team as they defeated No. 10 Sobrato, 54-42, in the opening round of the Division III playoffs on June 5.
The senior forward caught fire at the right time by scoring 13 points in the fourth quarter, including back-to-back 3-pointers and a steal that led to a layup bucket. Ayyad finished with a career-high 28 points and six 3-pointers to go along with eight rebounds and five steals.
“We came out as a team. We played together, executed together and did everything right together,” he said. “The final outcome of that is us winning.”
Aptos bounced back after a tough one-point loss against Soquel High in the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League ‘A’ Division Tournament semifinals.
Mariners coach Brian Bowyer believed it was the defensive play that made the difference in the game. He said the offense was playing just as well and they had wide open looks, but the shots weren’t falling in like he hoped for.
Because of the missed shots, the Bulldogs were able to keep it tight throughout the contest. An 8-0 run in the second quarter put Sobrato within a point, 16-15, of the Mariners. Then they pulled off a 6-0 run to start the fourth quarter that gave them their first and only lead of the game at 31-30.
Bulldogs coach Sean Tate said during that final stretch they were valuing the ball and keeping turnovers at a minimum. He added that the defense switched to man coverage, which allowed them to grab rebounds on missed shots.
“When you’re not giving the ball away you’re giving yourself a chance to score,” he said.
Sobrato junior forward Marc DiFrancesco scored a team-high 13 points, followed by junior guard Andrew Zorio with 10 points.
Tate said his team is young and this year’s postseason run was just about getting their feet wet.
“We were on house money,” he said. “We were really looking forward just to this game for the experience purpose and to play Aptos, it couldn’t come any better.”
Ayyad said they committed mistakes such as turning the ball over, however, they were able to fix those issues. He also credited their defense for shutting down any type of come-from-behind victory by the Bulldogs.
The Mariners pulled away after Ayyad drained his third 3-point shot in the fourth that gave the Mariners a 45-34 lead and the game.
Sobrato’s season comes to an end with a 3-11 record. Tate said they’ve had a good rivalry with the Mariners after having split the past six games. He mentioned that each game has been a dogfight until the end.
“It’s the personnel,” he said. “We have kids who work hard and know how to play so it’s just a really good matchup.”