In a game that was a battle of runs, Freedom High was hot at the end to secure a 68-62 win over visiting Monte Vista in a North Coast Section Division I boys quarterfinal on Friday.
The No. 4 seed Falcons (19-8) advanced to the NCS semifinals Wednesday against No. 1 San Leandro and also secured their second straight trip to the California Interscholastic Federation Northern regional playoffs.
"It's real big to get back, now we want to win," said junior Elliot Smith, who scored eight of his 14 points in the fourth quarter.
Freedom lost in its NCS semifinal appearance last year and also dropped its first-round NorCal game.
The season isn't necessarily over for No. 5 Monte Vista (20-7). If a Division I team from NCS is selected for the CIF's new Open Division -- and De La Salle would be a prime candidate -- the Mustangs, the highest-seeded team to lose in Friday's Division I quarterfinals, would be selected to the NorCal playoffs.
The game started out with an exchange of runs. After Monte Vista opened the game with a three-point play by Spencer Rust, Freedom rattled off a 12-0 run.
The Mustangs took a time out and responded with their own 13-0 run and held a 16-15 lead after a quarter.
The second quarter was more of a back-and-forth affair. Monte Vista never trailed in the period and led by as much as five, but Freedom tied the game with 3:12 left in the half and entered intermission trailing 29-27.
The game was tied at 60 with 1:17 to go, but the Mustangs went cold. Freedom took a 64-60 lead on a free throw by Sam Bide and three by Smith.
Monte Vista made it 64-62 with two free throws by Trevor John, but four late free throws by the Falcons put it away.
"Our kids fought and played their butts off," Monte Vista coach Nick Jones said. "It just seemed like every time getting the ball up the court was a war."
Rodney Pope led Freedom with 20 points. Rust had 19 and John had 18 for the Mustangs.
De La Salle 42, Berkeley 25: Behind Elliott Pitts and their trademark defense, the host Spartans set the tone early and coasted to a Division I quarterfinal victory.
After the Yellowjackets scored the first basket of the game, De La Salle (24-3) put together a 17-2 run and never saw its lead sink below double digits the rest of the night. Berkeley (16-12), which had not scored fewer than 44 points this season, was held to 12 points through the first three quarters.
The No. 3-seeded Spartans now have a Wednesday semifinal matchup against No. 2 Deer Valley, which beat De La Salle 55-38 on Dec. 8.
Pitts was the force behind the big first-half run for the Spartans. He scored 12 of his game-high 16 points in the first quarter. He also finished the game with nine rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots.
Justyce Key led Berkeley with 10 points.
-- Chace Bryson, correspondent
Mt. Eden 57, San Lorenzo 47: With its Division II win over sixth-seeded San Lorenzo (16-12), the host and No. 3 Monarchs (19-9) punched their ticket to the semifinals and a spot in the CIF NorCal playoffs, which begin March 6.
Mt. Eden's Noel Briones scored a game-high 24 points. The Monarchs will play at No. 2 Dublin (23-5) on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Mt. Eden's Stevinair Young scored 16 points and grabbed five rebounds. Teammate Jalen Dominique had seven points, seven rebounds and three blocks.
The Monarchs atoned for a 55-36 loss to San Lorenzo on Feb. 13, holding the Rebels to 11 points in the first quarter and six in the second. Ali Faruqbey's 23 points led San Lorenzo.
-- Steve R. Waterhouse, correspondent
Dublin 54, Alameda 50: The visiting Gaels (20-8) held on after taking a 13-point lead in the third quarter over the Hornets (20-8) in the Division II quarterfinals.
Milan Moses scored 22 points to lead Dublin, and center Jojuan Carrington hit two free throws with five seconds left to secure the win.
The Gaels led 35-21 after Alanna Yee hit a 3-pointer on the first possession of the second half.
Alameda then turned up the pressure.
DeJa Johnson had a steal and coast-to-coast layup to get the Hornets started on a quick 6-0 run. By the end of the third quarter, it was 47-39 Dublin.
-- Damin Esper, correspondent