A year ago, Cole McConnell had a safety net in his twin brothers, Will and Reed. The seniors led the Sacred Heart Prep boys' basketball team and Cole was happy to play a supporting role.
This season, Will is at Dartmouth and Reed is at UC Irvine, and Cole has needed to take on more of a leadership role along with his scoring by getting his teammates involved. It's a role that suits Cole and has been successful for the Gators.
McConnell made seven three-pointers and scored 25 points to pave the way for a 68-44 romp over Harker on Tuesday night in Atherton in the Central Coast Section Division IV semifinals at Menlo School.
The No. 3-seeded Gators (20-6) earned its fifth straight trip the to section finals and will seek a third straight title against No. 4 Half Moon Bay (23-5), which upset No. 1 Palma, 49-42. SHP and HMB will meet Friday at Santa Clara University at 4:45 p.m.
The Gators, who beat Harker twice during the West Bay Athletic League season, posted its biggest triumph of the three meetings by racing to a 42-21 halftime lead. McConnell, who scored a career-high 32 points in the previous win over Harker, averaged 24.3 points in his team's three wins against the WBAL foe.
Sacred Heart Prep used its stingy pressing defense, sparked by Pat Bruni and Cameron Van, to grab a 19-6 first-quarter lead. Point guard Kevin Donahoe ran the offense and contributed nine points while Derek Hunter and Van added eight points each while SHP coach Tony Martinelli was able to get all 13 players into the game as the Gators' lead ballooned in the second half.
While SHP earned a shot at another title, the Menlo School girls saw their fine season end in a tough 37-33 loss to No. 2 seed Soquel (24-4) in a CCS Division IV semifinal at Notre Dame-Belmont on Tuesday.
The No. 6-seeded Knights finished 19-10 while Soquel moved on to Friday's section finals to face No. 1 seed Mercy-San Francisco.
Menlo was led by Drew Edelman with 15 points and 10 rebounds. The Knights led by one late in the fourth quarter but could not convert down the stretch as Edelman was held scoreless in the final period as her teammates were unable to get her the ball. Menlo also hurt itself by missing 10 of its 11 three-point attempts.