Tomales High's basketball Braves raced into the twilight of the St. Vincent zone defense Tuesday night and disappeared from the North Central League II playoffs.
Using an active, helping zone defense, St. Vincent shut down Tomales from the start on its way to a 63-36 victory in DeCarli Gym. The win advances St. Vincent's Mustangs to the semifinals of the eight-team tournament. They will play again Thursday evening in their home gym at 5:30 p.m.
St. Vincent had little trouble defeating Tomales for the third time this season, blocking the first four Brave efforts to penetrate the Mustang defense, building an 18-9 first quarter lead and clearing its bench by the end of the first half.
"We're playing pretty well right now," acknowledged St. Vincent coach Lance Phillips. "I'm proud of them. They have come a long way. We only have two seniors, and everyone is learning on the fly."
Zach Pierson, a 6-foot, 3-inch junior, controlled the paint at both ends of the court when he was in the game and finished with a game-high 22 points for the Mustangs. Evan Knight, another who could easily have had more points with more playing time, added 15 as 10 Mustangs scored.
Anthony Felciano, a sometimes lone force inside for the Braves, led Tomales with 13, while Tyler McFadden gave Tomales a flicker of hope at the outset of the third period with a pair of 3-point connections and finished with 11 points.
By the end of the first period, five Mustangs had already scored, and after a bit of a drought at the outset of the second period, St. Vincent picked up the scoring in the latter stages of the quarter, with Mitch Sheppard hitting a pair of jump shots, one from 3-point distance. By the half, the Mustangs were solidly in control, 32-13.
McFadden hit his 3's early on in the third quarter, but at no point were the Mustangs seriously threatened, as Pierson proved unstoppable inside. He scored 12 points in the third period, including two on a sweeping left-handed hook shot.
The final period was a formality marked by ragged play and a multitude of fouls on both teams. The win improved SV's record to 16-10.