High school basketball: 41 years later, Sequoia back on top

MILLBRAE — Ziggy Lauese felt as if he took care of unfinished business.

Three years ago as a freshman on the Sequoia boys basketball team, an opportunity slipped away to end a prolonged drought for the Cherokees.

Sequoia finished as runner-up in the PAL South after a loss at home to Mills in the last week of the regular season, thereby denied its first outright league title since 1977.

Back then Sequoia was a member of the South Peninsula Athletic League, with the Cherokees able to leapfrog atop the standings following a pair of games forfeited by Menlo-Atherton.

The 41-year wait is over after a winner-take-all showdown at Mills on Tuesday night in which Lauese, a 6-foot-6½ senior still under the recruiting process, delivered a dominant double-double with 29 points and 12 rebounds in the 50-39 victory.

“I just didn’t want to lose another championship again,” Lauese said. “Every time I got the ball, I always have that mentality of, ‘I’m going to finish everything and nothing can stop me.’ ”

Precariously ahead 35-34 entering the fourth quarter, Sequoia (19-5, 11-1 PAL South) went into lockdown mode on defense and scored 13 unanswered points to put the game out of reach with less than a minute left.

The other previous league title for the Cherokees came in 1967, when it shared the trophy with Palo Alto.

“It’s been a while, but they deserve it,” said Sequoia coach Fine Lauese, who is Ziggy’s uncle. “It’s a great group of guys and they put so much work in. Not just on the court, but away from the court. Unbelievable.”

It’s a short turnaround for the Cherokees, with tip-off for the three-day PAL Tournament on Thursday and the finals scheduled for Saturday at Half Moon Bay.

“Our coach told us this is just the beginning,” Ziggy said. “We’ve still got a lot …read more

Source:: The Mercury News

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