University guard Max Fried (4) drives against Foothill defenders in a CIF regional semifinal on March 2, 2019 at Kezar Pavillion in San Francisco, California. (Chris Victorio

SF Preps Basketball: Serra, University boys set to play for NorCal titles

Two nearby teams remain alive in the CIF State Basketball Tournament, as the Serra Padres and University Red Devils will each play for NorCal championships on Tuesday night, with the hopes of returning to state title games for both teams.

University (26-9) will host Monterey at Kezar Pavilion in the Northern California Division III Championship, needing to slow down the high-flying Toreadores.

Monterey, CCS Division III champions for the second time in three years, advanced to the NorCal championship for the first time in program history by beating Palo Alto on Saturday. The Toreadores love to push the pace and run, led by brothers Mohammed and Mohanid Adam, Tahjae Ordonio and Evans Charles. The quartet combined for 53 of their 55 points Saturday, with Mohammed Adam draining the game-winning 3-pointer with six seconds left.

It’ll be key for the Red Devils to withstand Monterey’s 3-point barrages and take advantage when the Toreadores (25-4) get sloppy, which will happen from time to time. University also has superior depth, so if Raki Cabrera-Scarlata and Ren Zanze can give solid minutes off the bench, the hosts will be in position to return to the state championships for the first time since 2015. University lost the Division V Championship that year, 80-55, to a Sierra Canyon team that has since played four straight years in the Open Division, won the 2018 CIF Open title and will be playing to return there Tuesday night.

As for Serra, the Padres have largely mirrored their 2016 CIF Division II Championship run. That year, they fell short in the CCS Open Division, losing in the semifinals to Bellarmine. This year, Serra was bounced in the first round by Menlo-Atherton. Combined with a blowout consolation loss to Mitty, the Padres entered the state tournament on a four-game losing streak, but they’ve gone on a tear since then, with road wins over St. Patrick-St. Vincent and top-seeded Stockton-St. Mary’s.

On Saturday, Serra blasted Rocklin to advance to Tuesday night’s showdown with a Cougars team that should be better equipped to handle their defensive pressure than the prior three opponents.

Campolindo is led by guards David Ahazie and Carter Mahaney, plus freshman Aidan Mahaney. It was the younger of the Mahaney brothers who hit back-to-back threes late in Saturday’s win over Grant, lifting the Cougars to a second straight nail-biter win over a Sacramento team.

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