The Cougars REPEAT as Burlingame Lions' Club Tournament Champions!

From today's SM Daily Journal:

Half Moon Bay repeats at Burlingame Lions basketball tournament
December 13, 2014, 05:00 AM By Terry Bernal Daily Journal

Half Moon Bay's Tommy Nuño shoots over a pair of Los Altos defenders in the championship game of the Burlingame Lions Club Invitational.

The defending champs proved themselves once again at the Burlingame Lions Club Basketball Tournament.

Half Moon Bay (6-0) won its sixth straight game to start the year in Friday night’s tourney championship at Burlingame High School with a convincing 61-49 win over Los Altos (3-3). The Cougars rode the hot hand of junior forward Tommy Nuno, who scored a game-high 20 points en route to earning tournament MVP honors for the second straight year.

“We knew we had to bring our game tonight because they are pretty good,” Nuno said. “We just had to play hard and that’s what we did. When we play hard we’re usually pretty good.”

When Nuno was charged with his fourth foul of the game with one minute remaining in the third quarter, however, he summarily came off the floor with Half Moon Bay clinging to a 36-31 lead. That’s when the Cougars showed their flair for big-game performances runs much deeper than just with their star player.

“I think we’re really underrated,” Half Moon Bay senior forward Case DuFrane said. “We haven’t got the credit we deserve and we’re trying to prove it.”

DuFrane — one of three Cougars players to be named to the all-tournament team along with Nuno and Caelin Batstone — proved it the minute Nuno stepped off the court in foul trouble.

On Half Moon Bay’s ensuing possession, the 6-7 DuFrane cut to the hoop for an exciting lay-in to increase the Cougars’ lead to 38-31. After Los Altos kept pace with a pair of free throws, Cougars center Austin Hilton closed the third quarter with a clutch offensive rebound and went back up for a bucket to give Half Moon Bay a 40-33 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.

Hilton had a game-high 10 rebounds, four of which were offensive boards. But it was the scoring prowess of he and DuFrane that helped Half Moon Bay persevere through the final eight minutes.

DuFrane opened the final quarter with quick-back-to-back buckets, and drew a foul on the second one to net a three-point play, giving the Cougars breathing room at 44-33. Then DuFrane’s passing paid off big time as he later hit the 6-6 Hilton in the post with a high bull’s-eye which was converted for a 49-35 lead. Next time down the court, Batstone found Hilton in the post for a score.

“We have a lot of good chemistry and we’ve been working on those high-low passes a lot,” DuFrane said. “So, it’s just kind of go-to now.”

By the time DeFrane also came off the floor with four fouls and 4:31 remaining in the game, the Cougars held a comfortable 53-35 lead.

“That was really kind of the difference,” Half Moon Bay head coach Rich Forslund said. “[Los Altos] didn’t have the size to match up and we did a good job pounding.”

Los Altos did make it interesting once the perimeter shooting became a factor. The Eagles were in a quandary throughout the first half, shooting just 5 of 24 from the floor.

“I thought our defense had a lot to do with it,” Forslund said. “I think our energy was at a really high level.”

Ultimately, Los Altos finished the game having converted eight 3-pointers, six of which came in the second half. The Eagles capitalized on back-to-back Half Moon Bay turnovers in the fourth quarter, both capped by 3-point shots. And when Los Altos forward Daniel Rosenbaum hit his third trey of the night to close to within eight points at 55-47, the Cougars may have started hearing footsteps.

But that is when Nuno checked back into the game and closed the door, tabbing four free throws down the stretch. The junior was 9 of 9 from the free-throw line in the game.

“I think this was definitely one of our best games from start to finish,” Forslund said. “We did a lot of good things. There’s still a lot of things to improve on. But I thought in terms of intensity, this is probably the best I’ve seen us play for the entire game.”