Wildcats junior Scotty Brennan, seen here scoring in the regular-season finale vs. Palo Alto, had a career-high 31 points in a 82-80 overtime win over Santa Teresa in the CCS D-I semifinals Thursday night. Photo by Jonathan Natividad.

Scotty Brennan probably got knocked down more times driving to the basket in one half of Thursday night’s Central Coast Section Division I basketball playoff semifinal game than he did all of football season. 

But like clockwork, every time Brennan hit the floor, he got back up and responded. In a rough-and-tumble game, with players from both teams hitting the hardwood seemingly on every possession, Brennan’s aggressiveness paid off as he scored a career-high 31 points to lead Los Gatos to a riveting 82-80 overtime win over Santa Teresa at Fremont High in Sunnyvale. 

The No. 2 seed Wildcats (20-6) play top-seed Menlo-Atherton (20-6) in the championship game on Saturday at Santa Clara High. Tipoff is scheduled for 7pm. A year ago, Los Gatos battled before coming up short against Bellarmine in the D-I final, 63-55, also at Santa Clara High. 

“I can’t wait,” Brennan said, “hopefully we get it this time.”

Thursday’s contest featured 10 ties and an incredible 22—yes, 22—lead changes, the last coming on Brennan’s driving layup in which he spun and juked a couple of defenders in the lane, drew a foul and hit the free throw to give the Wildcats a 81-80 lead with 19.3 seconds left in overtime. 

Stationed at the top of the key, Brennan drove to the basket as defenders collapsed on him. He spun and elevated before landing hard on the floor. From there, he heard the roar of the crowd and the whistle as a result from being fouled, and felt fortunate of the end result. 

“Honestly, I kind of threw it up and it went in,” Brennan said. “I threw up a prayer. … I was thinking, ‘I hope this goes in.’ I threw it up there and it went in. Thank God.”

On the ensuing possession, Santa Teresa got a decent look but missed an open jump shot from just inside the 3-point arc. Nolan Koch, who nearly won the game in regulation at the buzzer on a putback attempt, grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 0.8 seconds to go. 

He made the first free throw and intentionally missed the second, resulting in a Santa Teresa inbound play. The Saints promptly turned it over and Los Gatos successfully inbounded the ball to ice the outcome, setting off a wild celebration at midcourt. 

“I bet you can tell from watching I’m a pretty emotional player,” Brennan said. “I just love my team, I love my boys, I love playing with everybody, I just want to win for them and I just want to win this whole thing.”

The 6-foot-4, 175-pound Brennan was an ultra-efficient 12-for-17 from the floor (70.5 percent), while making his usual impact on the defensive end, blocking shots, producing steals and grabbing rebounds. He wasn’t the only Los Gatos standout on this night, as Koch had 18 points—banging his way inside for tough baskets—and Ronan Chinmulgund scored 15 points. 

It seemed like every time Los Gatos needed a bucket at crucial moments, Brennan or Chinmulgund answered by getting to the rim off dribble penetration. Los Gatos was up for most of the second half, taking its largest lead, 68-61, on two Brennan free throws with 1:53 left in regulation. 

But the Saints responded with a 11-4 run to close out the fourth quarter and send it to overtime. The ‘Cats had a golden opportunity to win it at the regulation buzzer, but close-range shots from Osha Moloney (nine points) and Koch rimmed out. 

Los Gatos displayed its mettle in the OT after going down 80-77 with 59.6 seconds remaining. A game it seemingly had control of was slipping away, but a free throw from Anthony Martin (9 points), followed by a Santa Teresa turnover, set up Brennan’s heroics. Given the stage and opponent, this was arguably the Wildcats’ most impressive win of the season. 

The Saints applied relentless full-court pressure which at times gave Los Gatos fits. However, the ‘Cats were able to settle down in the second half in handling the pressure.   

“I think we just calmed down,” Brennan said. “Honestly, we were pretty out of control. Our coaches talked to us, they’re like, ‘Hey, this happened to us before. We can handle this press, it’s nothing new. Lock in, handle the ball well, pass to the open guys.’”

On Saturday, Los Gatos aims for just its second CCS championship in program history, with its lone title coming in 2018. The ‘Cats have also finished as the runner-up four times: in 1994, 1997, 2017 and 2023. 

They lost to Menlo-Atherton 53-47 in the season-opener, all the way back on Nov. 22. The rematch promises to come down to the wire.

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Emanuel Lee primarily covers sports for Weeklys/NewSVMedia's Los Gatan publication. Twenty years of journalism experience and recipient of several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. Emanuel has run eight marathons with a PR of 3:13.40, counts himself as a true disciple of Jesus Christ and loves spending time with his wife and their two lovely daughters, Evangeline and Eliza.


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