SAN JOSE – Homestead coach Matt Wright returned to the pitch after the trophy presentation on Saturday night. He had to spend a few minutes with the opposing player who just didn’t want to leave the hot and loaded Piedmont Hills gym without a championship.
Jordan Martinez took 10 shots from beyond the 3-point arc – a little beyond – and finished with 36 points as Piedmont Hills opened a tight game in the final two minutes and won 75- 64 to win the Central Coast Section Division I title.
Martinez, registered at 5-foot-6 and 137 pounds, sank seven 3-pointers and scored 35 points in the semifinals against Santa Clara.
The senior was even better in the final.
“He was making some of the most incredible shots I’ve seen on a high school basketball court,” Wright said.
Piedmont Hills needed everything Martinez had, plus a spectacular night from senior Alijah Washington, who finished with 27 points, to avoid eighth-seeded Homestead.
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The visitors faltered in the second quarter as Martinez scored 16 points to push Piedmont Hills’ lead to 17. But the Mustangs, who toppled the seeded Independence in the quarterfinals, narrowed the lead to 10 in half time and started the second half on a 12-2 run to shoot even 44-44 in the middle of the third quarter.
Daniel Brathwaite finished with 25 points and Patrick Yeh got 14 points for Homestead.
But Martinez and Washington immediately stabilized the leaking ship for the second-seeded Pirates, with Martinez sandwiching two 3-pointers around a Washington basket to bring the score to 52-44.
“I thought they were going to come back with energy and they did it,” Martinez said. “I was not wrong. But I knew we could never give up because we wanted to win.
Homestead reduced the deficit two to three times in the fourth quarter, the last at 62-60 on a Brian Sathy basket with four minutes remaining.
The Mustangs never got to take the lead as Martinez continued to sizzle. His 3-point top took the advantage five to three minutes from time. Another 3 points from Martinez took the score to 68-62 with 1:11 to go and another extended the lead to 71-62.
“Nothing can go wrong when it hits like that,” Washington said.
Piedmont Hills coach Anthony Cuellar has said he knows Martinez won’t calm down after his semifinal performance, noting all the shots he makes in the gym, at home, anywhere with a hoop.
“The kid has a different kind of mentality,” Cuellar said. “He has the ultimate belief. I think that’s what carries it. He has ultimate confidence.
The 36 points, Martinez said, were the most points he has scored in a college game.
“It’s so surreal,” he added. “It’s a legendary game, that’s all I have to say. I am blessed to be in this moment right now.
The scenario for the final was Wright, who traveled to Lake Tahoe immediately after his team’s victory over Mountain View in the semi-finals on Thursday for his wedding on Friday.
Wright returned to the Bay Area on Saturday, arriving about three hours before the 7 p.m. kickoff.
He was planning to return to Tahoe on Saturday night.
“I wouldn’t trade my marriage for anything,” Wright said. “But I would like to have one more day to prepare for this game. Not to take anything away from them, of course. They played. But I am so proud of my team.
The coach on the other bench also had a good story. Cuellar played for Pete Simos at Piedmont Hills over a decade ago, then coached under his mentor until he took on the head coach position when Simos stepped down in 2018.
The former coach watched from the stands on Saturday.
“It’s like my big brother,” Cuellar said after a moment to pull himself together. “Having Pete Simos there is a huge mentor. He helped me a lot. … I jumped on his cart, man. It all comes back to him.
“Being in his program and growing up in this neighborhood, going to Ruskin Elementary, going to Sierramont Middle School, coming right here, being born right across from this school, I mean so much emotion, so much going on. .
“All that and going to a CCS final and being able to put up a banner… that’s priceless to me. ”
The championship was Piedmont Hills’ second in seven trips to a CCS final. Simos’ 2016 team won the program’s first title.
For Washington, the championship ended an unfinished family affair. His father, Lynn, led Andrew Hill to a CSC final in 1996, but lost in double overtime to Woodside.
“Everyone’s name is up there,” Washington said, pointing to the 2016 Piedmont Hills CCS banner. “Then everyone will remember us.”