The Half Moon Bay High School girls varsity basketball team finally met its match in the second round of the California Interscholastic Federation tournament on Thursday. Colfax, playing at home, routed the Cougars, 61-34.

The Cougars finish the season 25-4 after going 11-1 in league play with a perfect 11-0 while playing at home.

While the loss was disappointing, it did nothing to diminish the thrill of the first-round game two days earlier. With the game tied at 47 apiece, with 27 seconds remaining, the Cougars huddled in a timeout in the Cabrillo Unified Event Center. 

“(Coach) Antonio (Veloso) kept telling us, ‘This is the group. This is the group,’” Genevieve Belmonte said when it was all over. “That’s really all he kept saying.”

Indeed, it was the group. 

As Caruthers High School forward Jacklyn Kulow brought the ball up the court, Cougar guard Abby Kennedy picked her up at the top of the key, forced a pass inside, then double-teamed a Blue Raider forward to force a turnover. Belmonte came down with the rebound and was fouled. As the Cougars were in the bonus, the crowd erupted. Belmonte walked to the free-throw line. 

The junior forward looked reserved as she centered herself on the free-throw line, ready to take two shots that could give the Cougars a lead with 1.3 seconds remaining. But, understandably, she was nervous. 

“That was really intense,” Belmonte said. “I did not want to miss those. I had to look away from the basket and reset my mind and look back before I could shoot it.”

Belmonte stayed calm and sank both, which sealed the Cougars come-from-behind win over Caruthers (28-5). The win set up the game in Colfax, north of Sacramento.

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