MORAGA — Just when it looked like James Logan junior Brah’jon Thompson couldn’t be stopped and the North Coast Section Division I championship game would get out of hand, De La Salle on Friday night turned to what’s been a hallmark of its program for the better part of two decades.
Led by seniors Thomas Gregorios and Tim Kostolansky, De La Salle held Thompson and Logan to two points in the fourth quarter to help come away with a scintillating 54-46 win in the Division I section championship game before a raucous, near-capacity crowd at Saint Mary’s College.
De La Salle’s defense led to offense, as the Spartans scored 18 points in the fourth quarter — almost all of it in the final 4:46 — to win the Division I section crown for the third time in four years and the 13th time in school history.
The win likely means De La Salle will earn a spot in next week’s CIF Northern Regional Open Division playoffs and James Logan will be in Division I when brackets are announced on Sunday.
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“That fourth quarter was unbelievable,” Spartans coach Justin Argenal said. “Defensively, we really locked in, they took some tough shots and we were able to score in transition, which opened things up for us. Once we scored a couple, we got some more confidence. One thing led to another.”
For De La Salle (28-3), Kostolansky had 17 points, Gregorios finished with 16 and freshman Jeremiah Dargen added eight. Thompson finished with 28.
Kostolansky also had a huge block in transition as he swatted a shot by Makaio Mims with just over five minutes to play, helping to set the tone for the rest of the game. The Spartans also had a decided advantage in rebounding.
“They’re a very good team, very impressive,” Kostolansky said of Logan. “Getting stops and rebounds was huge for us.”
Twelve of Gregorios’s points came in the second half, but his biggest plays came on the defensive end, as he picked up steals on back-to-back Logan possessions late in the fourth quarter.
With De La Salle leading 47-46, Gregorios’ turned his first steal into a layup. After his second steal, he passed to a streaking Dargan for an emphatic slam that gave the Spartans a 51-46 lead with 1:06 left in regulation.
“Back-breaking for them. But they were huge, winning plays,” Argenal said. “He has done that all year long. Whether its making shots, getting steals.when we needed it, He’s been the guy down the stretch and tonight was no different.”
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Logan, which entered Friday on an 11-game win streak, was seeking its first NCS title in boys basketball since 1987.
Things looked good for the Colts after a mesmerizing performance by Thompson and his teammates in third quarter.
With the game tied at 25 at halftime, Thompson took over, scoring Logan’s first eight points of the third quarter. He ended the quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers, both from roughly 25 feet, as the Colts took a 44-36 lead into the final eight minutes.
Thompson, though, picked up his third foul midway through the third quarter and his fourth foul in the final 0.6 seconds of the third, attempting to block a 3-point attempt by Dargan after a Colts turnover.
With Thompson on the bench, Logan’s offense sputtered, and De La Salle began to attack. At one point in the fourth quarter, the Colts had nine team fouls and the Spartans had two.
“There were a lot of emotions,” Logan coach Melvin Easley said. “It’s a tough game to lose on the biggest stage.”
Everyone at James Logan had a real-life scare earlier Friday when a student was stabbed and the Union City school was placed on lockdown for over three hours. At 1:27 p.m., local police alerted the public that they had arrested a juvenile suspected in the stabbing and that the lockdown had been lifted.
James Logan students were released from the school at 3:20 p.m., the school’s normal dismissal time. Details about the severity of the stabbing and the condition of the victim was not released by authorities, although Bagley said some of his players knew the student.
“It’s tough,” Easley said. “I tried to get the guys together to refocus. Some guys came in to get some shots up earlier. It’s just a refocus thing and taking time to refocus so you can visualize everything that’s going to happen on the floor.
“But at the end of the day, you’ve just got to come out and play basketball.”
It’s been a remarkable run for the Spartans, who will carry a nine-game win streak into the regional playoffs. This stretch includes a 64-62 victory over Dublin on Feb. 9 for the East Bay Athletic League championship.
“Tonight was one of those big wins, kind of defining wins of the season,” Argenal said. “It’s a testament to the seniors. They’re pretty special.”