SAN JOSE -- After a trying conference season, Bellarmine College Prep finds itself in a familiar spot.

The Bells will play for another Central Coast Section championship.

Bellarmine, which was 2-12 in West Catholic Athletic League play, defeated No. 1 seed San Benito 55-53 in double overtime Wednesday night in a CCS Division I semifinal at Independence High.

The Bells will meet Menlo-Atherton, a 60-46 winner over No. 7 seed Homestead, in the championship game at 8 p.m. Saturday at Independence. Bellarmine (11-16) will be seeking its 12th CCS title and its sixth in the past seven years.

"When teams go through what we went through in league, they usually splinter, lose interest and start to turn on each other," Bellarmine coach Patrick Schneider said. "We are where we are because these kids are none of that. They love each other, work their butt off every day and do their best with the scouting report we give them before each game."

The Bells trailed 45-40 with 1:29 left in regulation. Dylan Tarpening (team-high 18 points) hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to two and then scored the tying basket on a drive with 14 seconds left.

The first overtime concluded with the score 47-47. Tarpening's fast-break basket in the second overtime gave the Bells a 53-50 lead, and they managed to hang on.


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Menlo-Atherton will be going for its first CCS title since 1989, a season in which M-A went on to win the state championship.

The Bears (18-8) went into the CCS playoffs rather lightly regarded after tying for fourth place in the Peninsula Athletic League South Division. But now they join Bellarmine in the spotlight.

Defense was the key as Homestead was never able to get into the kind of offensive flow it demonstrated in a quarterfinal win over Piedmont Hills.

"We pride ourselves on our defense," point guard Ryan Roberts said. "We like to keep games in the 40s."

But after scoring 33 points through the first three quarters, Menlo-Atherton put up 27 in the fourth quarter thanks to 17-of-21 free-throw shooting.

Royce Branning led Menlo-Atherton with 21 points. Troy Whitford had 14 for Homestead.

Division III: Kevin Hahn scored the winning basket in the final minute of the third overtime to boost Aragon past No. 2 seed Aptos 94-93 and into the championship game. Aragon will meet Valley Christian, which defeated No. 8 seed Hillsdale 61-40, at 4 p.m. Saturday at Foothill College. Toby Liebergesell led Aragon with 33 points, Hahn scored 24, and Alex Manu, playing despite an injured ankle, added 19.