SAN LEANDRO -- The San Leandro High boys basketball team delivered a dominating victory over Jesse Bethel-Vallejo in its first Northern California regional playoff game in school history.
The Pirates let a big lead evaporate but recovered quickly to crush the Jaguars 74-55 in a Division I first-round win at home on Wednesday night.
San Leandro (24-6) advances to host De La Salle (25-4) in Saturday's NorCal quarterfinals at 7 p.m.
The Pirates were coming off their first appearance in a North Coast Section championship game, which they lost to Deer Valley on Friday.
"After the loss, we just came out trying to do better and go farther in this tournament because we don't want to go home," said sophomore forward Osi Nwachuke, who had a game-high 21 points.
San Leandro was up and down the court and received production throughout the lineup.
Nwachuke and Stephen Johnson led the way during the first half. Both were in double figures by intermission, with Nwachuke delivering 14 points and Johnson scoring 10.
The Pirates led by as much as 17 points in the first half before Bethel went on a mini-run, scoring six straight, late in the second quarter. San Leandro took a 38-27 lead into halftime.
Bethel made a major charge in the third quarter, going on a 13-2 run that Garry Wilson capped with a three-point play. That trimmed the Pirates' lead to 43-42 with 2:50 left in the third quarter.
But in a blink of an eye, San
"It was the leaders on the team," Nwachuke said, referring to Ishmail Ali, Kimini Hall and Dejon Budreaux. "They told us to turn it up, so we turned it up."
By the time Bethel scored again, San Leandro had built its lead to 18 points, and the Pirates cruised from there.
Kennon Noble added 19 points for the Pirates.
Noah Wellington led the Jaguars with 16 points, Wilson added 15 and Edward Moore had 14.
Follow Jimmy Durkin at Twitter.com/Jimmy_Durkin.