Coach Jennifer Keathley believes her Monte Vista Christian Mustangs are currently playing their best basketball of the season.
They’ll need that trend to continue in the semifinal round of the Central Coast Section Division IV playoffs.
The No. 5-seeded Mustangs will play top-seeded Sacred Heart Prep at The Menlo School on Thursday at 7 p.m. after scoring a narrow 45-43 win over No. 4 Terra Nova on Tuesday night in Pacifica.
The Gators (14-10) thumped No. 9 Mercy-San Francisco, 77-39, to advance to the semifinals.
“We know they’re good, that’s why they’re the No. 1,” Keathley said.
M.V.C. (19-7) trailed Terra Nova (13-13) by as many as eight in the first half, but stunned the Tigers with a fourth-quarter comeback. Aleah Rafat’s 3-pointer off an inbounds play with two minutes left gave the Mustangs the lead, and their defense did the rest.
“We made some big defensive plays in critical times,” said Keathley, who dished credit to just about everyone on the team for playing a crucial role in the team’s late-season push.
M.V.C. has won five of its last six, and its lone defeat was a 52-50 loss to Pacific Coast Athletic League Gabilan division co-champion North Salinas.
“It’s been a team effort,” Keathley said. “It’s been a different girl stepping up and making a difference every night.”
On Tuesday, it was 6-foot-4 sophomore center Hanna Harvey. She finished with 17 points and six rebounds. Sophomore point guard Mackenzie Tellez chipped in 12 points and four assists. Rafat added 10 rebounds and six points.
In other CCS basketball quarterfinal action:
• Aptos 83, Capuchino 64 - Natalia Ackerman exploded for 40 points on only 20 shots and also pulled down 18 rebounds in the top-seeded Mariners’ CCS Division III quarterfinal win over No. 9 Capuchino on Tuesday.
Gabby Giuffre added 19 points and Hannah Hocom almost matched her with 18 points in the rout.
Aptos (21-6) plays No. 5 Saratoga — a 53-41 winner over No. 4 Mills — at Del Mar on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
The Mariners, back-to-back Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League champions, have advanced to the CCS D-III championship game each of the last two seasons.
• St. Francis 59, Pacific Bay 26 - Janessa Yniguez (18) and Grace Kovacs (17) combined for 35 points in the No. 3-seeded Sharks’ CCS Division V quarterfinal win over No. 6 Pacific Bay on Tuesday night.
Tanya Gallo also finished in double figures for St. Francis (12-12), which plays No. 2 Notre Dame-Salinas at Pacific Bay Christian on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
• Aptos 60, Pajaro Valley 45 - The No. 2-seeded Mariners eliminated their South Santa Cruz County mate on Tuesday night to advance to the CCS D-III semifinals.
Aptos (17-10) will play another familiar foe for the right to move onto its first section final since the 2014-15 season, as No. 3 Soquel beat No. 6 Sobrato, 56-50, for a spot in the semifinals.
The two SCCAL teams will play at Aptos on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Pajaro Valley ends its season with a 17-10 overall record.
The Grizzlies, who were playing in their first-ever quarterfinal, will graduate six seniors, including starters Juan Lira and Carlos Rodriguez.
• St. Francis 73, Mountain View Academy 36 - No. 2 St. Francis cruised into the CCS D-V semifinals with a blowout win over No. 10 Mountain View Academy in Tuesday night’s quarterfinal round.
The Sharks (17-6) play No. 3 Nueva at Priory on Thursday at 7 p.m.