Cougars in the News AGAIN!

Half Moon Bay boys on verge of perfect regular season

By Mitch Stephens

Updated 5:52 pm, Thursday, February 12, 2015

Half Moon Bay boys basketball coach Rich Forslund chuckled when he saw his team at the top of the Central Coast Section rankings in one media poll.

Not that the rankings were far-fetched, mind you.

While the perennial powers of the West Catholic Athletic League keep beating each other up, the Cougars have remained perfect (23-0). With a home win over rival Terra Nova-Pacifica (17-5) Friday, they would become the first CCS team since 2002-03 to finish the regular season unbeaten.

Still, to see little Half Moon Bay on top of recent state champions Mitty, Sacred Heart Cathedral, St. Francis and Riordan — a team he coached to a 2002 state crown — just looked funny to Forslund.

“Hey, we welcome the recognition,” he said. “But come on. I’ve coached in that league with the big boys. We haven’t played nearly the schedule.”

Forslund’s not shortchanging what his team has accomplished. Last year’s 26-6 team was invited to the Open Division playoffs, won a game and if not for an ESPN Sports Center-worthy buzzer-beater could have defeated SHC. The Cougars went on to win two NorCal Division IV games but lost eight players to graduation, including their two top scorers.

That’s why this year’s perfect season is so noteworthy. “I knew we had a chance to be good again, but not 23-0,” Forslund said.

As expected, he’s received tremendous play from returning starters Tommy Nuno (10.2 points per game, 7.5 rebounds per game, 6 assists per game), a do-everything 6-foot-3 junior, and 6-7 senior power forward Case DuFrane (12.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg).

But the rapid improvement of 6-6 junior Austin Hilton (13.6 ppg) has been Forslund’s most pleasant surprise. Combine that trio with steady guard play, an eight-man rotation and superb halfcourt man-to-man defense and Half Moon Bay could make a state Division IV run.

If they aren’t called up to the state’s Open Division field, that is. That could happen if the Cougars win the CCS Open title.

“Not even considering that,” Forslund said. “We’d just be happy and honored to get to CCS Open.”