After a 24-win season and a trip to the Central Coast Section Division II semifinals, the Leigh High boys basketball team lost two key cogs to graduation and another star underclassman transferred to Archbishop Mitty Prep-San Jose.
Despite the departures, Leigh head coach Patrick Judge doesn’t exactly have a dearth of talent at his disposable this go round.
Led by newcomer Kimo Francisco, Leigh’s quality depth and pace wore down Del Mar High, capturing a 61-39 victory on a chilly Wednesday night at Del Mar High in San Jose.
Francisco, a junior varsity player last season as a sophomore, was called up to the varsity team during the playoffs. Observing a pair of playoffs games in a loaded D-II bracket, the shifty guard has made the most of his full-time role at the varsity level this winter.
Francisco scored nine points in the first half en route to a team-high 17 points in the Longhorns win—the sixth of the 2011-12 campaign.
“Coach has always made it easy for me to feel comfortable,” Francisco said about his transition to the varsity level. “It feels good to know that our program is still going strong. I feel like we all trust each other and play well together.”
Leigh, now 6-1 overall, led by two points at the half. The two nearby schools played to a 15-all stalemate after one quarter of play, capped off by a smooth 3-point shot by Del Mar starting guard Alex Balandra.
The Dons junior was one of two players for the home team to finish with double digits in the scoring department.
Junior Brandon Richard scored 11 points, while Balandra chipped in 10 including a pair of triples.
Leigh captains Trevor Peterson and Kyle Morrison helped the visitors pull away in the third quarter.
Both captains pulled off steals and scored, then Francisco finished a drive to the left with a nifty up-and-under score in between a pair of Dons defenders.
Leigh led by nine points after three.
“We decided to be more aggressive in the second half,” Francisco said. “They had a lot more space in the first half. We just have to keep trusting each other. If we do that, we definitely have a shot to make a run like last year.”
The lead was pushed into double digits early in the fourth with Peterson providing the exclaimation point. Normally known for his deadly outside shooting and the lone returner from last years core trio of stars, Peterson ripped off his fifth steal of the night and lifted off for a breakaway dunk.
The jam drew a big grin from the Longhorns senior and lifted several teammates off the bench with delight.
Peterson scored 14 points and Morrison added 12 points in the win.
Leigh has won six of seven to start the season and will take part in the St. Francis Holiday Tournament field next week in Mountain View.
Del Mar falls to 2-6 overall and returns to action today at More High.