In the span of three days, the Leigh boys basketball season went from magical to heartbreaking.

One day after the team learned that starting shooting guard Josh Verner suffered a broken hand in practice, Leigh was stunned at home by Sobrato 46-44 on Wednesday night in the opening round of the Blossom Valley Athletic League tournament.

The Longhorns not only were without Verner, they also severely limited power forward Devin Miller's minutes because of a back injury.

When it was over, coach Patrick Judge did not sugarcoat the defeat as he spoke to his players about the Central Coast Section playoffs.

"I just told them at the end of the day, with the guys banged up that we have and with the limited depth that we have, I told them straight up -- you guys are out of the Open conversation," said Judge, whose team had won 16 games in a row. "And I said, our next focus is putting a banner up in the gym for a CCS championship. We can take a little time off, get healed and come back ready to go."

Leigh (23-2) will most likely land in Division II.

  • Before Verner's injury, Leigh's biggest concern was whether it would make the Open Division. The Longhorns had won all 14 of their Blossom Valley Athletic League Mount Hamilton Division games, including a sweep of a Piedmont Hills team that took Serra to overtime, and entered the BVAL tournament as the top seed.

    But because Leigh is a Division II school, it was not a lock to make the Open because section basketball bylaws state that "no more than three teams from any one enrollment division can be selected."

    Mitty, Serra and St. Ignatius -- the top three finishers in the West Catholic Athletic League regular season -- are all Division II schools. So if Leigh were selected for the Open, one of the top three WCAL teams could not be chosen.

    Leigh's case was bolstered Tuesday when St. Francis upset St. Ignatius in the opening round of the WCAL tournament.

    But it all came tumbling down for the Longhorns when Sobrato, which finished third in the BVAL's "B" league, shocked the "A" league champion.

  • Why was the Open important? In addition to being allowed to play against the best, all eight teams in the Open automatically qualify for the Northern California regionals. If Leigh is dropped to Division II, which now seems a certainty, it would have to win the title to qualify for NorCals. The CCS pairings will be announced Sunday.

    "The bottom line is the next time that we experience defeat and how we saw the locker room tonight, that's the last time that these guys put on a Leigh uniform this year," Judge said. "I think at the end of the day, (D-II) might be a good thing for us, especially considering Miller now possibly being out for an extended period and then Vern."