GARDEN GROVE — The Santa Maria boys basketball team's big run continues.
Joey Nevarez popped in 24 points, Blake Truhitte, despite battling the flu, had 18 and Santa Maria stunned overall top seed Garden Grove at Garden Grove High School, garnering a 60-53 win in the CIF Southern Section Division 5AAA quarterfinals Tuesday night.
The Saints will play at La Puente at 7 p.m. Friday night in the semifinals. La Puente defeated Malibu 83-77 in overtime Tuesday.
"We lost the coin flip," Santa Maria coach Dave Yamate said by phone. "So whoever we play, we'll be on the road."
According to Santa Maria athletic director Brian Wallace, the Saints will be in their first divisional semifinal for a Santa Maria boys basketball team since 1985.
Santa Maria's baseball team won the 2017 Division 6 baseball championship. Truhitte and Jon Ramos (10 points, 10 rebounds Tuesday night), were teammates on a 2017 Santa Maria football team that made it to the Division 12 championship game.
Santa Maria opened up a 56-40 second-half lead Tuesdsay night then hung on to win.
The loss was just the second of the year for the Argonauts (27-2), who won the Garden Grove League with a 10-0 campaign. Santa Maria (20-7) reached the 20-win mark. The Saints tied Santa Ynez for second place in the Los Padres League.
Garden Grove entered the game on a 22-game win streak.
Besides his 18 points, Truhitte also snared nine rebounds.
"Blake Truhitte had a courageous effort," said Yamate.
"He'd been battling the flu all day. He had chills. I wasn't sure how he was going to be, but he stepped up big. He's just exhausted right now."
Santa Maria led 18-12 going into the first quarter, but Garden Grove led 31-27 at halftime.
"They're athletic and they crash the boards," Yamate said of the Argonauts.
"We stayed in the game with our defense. On offense, I think we were a little too hyped up in the first half. It was a hostile atmosphere, a small gym and we just overshot the ball in the first half."
As the Saints' 3-point shooting goes, so does the Santa Maria offense. The Saints made two 3-point shots in the first half. They made eight in the second.
"I told the guys at halftime, 'You've been playing your butts off on defense and you're right there in this game,'" Yamate said.
"We were overshooting the ball in the first half. At halftime I told them, 'Let's go out there and shoot it like we shoot it.'"
The Saints delivered, turning the 31-27 halftime deficit to a 49-38 third-quarter lead and eventually expanding their margin to 56-40.
Nevarez hit three of his four 3-pointers in the second half. "He made some big ones," said Yamate.
As the Saints were expanding their lead, 'They were making 2's and we were making 3's, and they just couldn't catch up," said Yamate.
"A lot of guys stepped up. Clark Kringel had nine rebounds. A lot of kids were in double figures in rebounds. Carlos Ochoa came off the bench and provided a big spark for us."
La Puente is now 17-11 after beating Malibu (14-5) in that quarterfinal match-up Tuesday night.