CHICO -- The College Park High boys basketball team staged a dramatic second half comeback on Wednesday to pull out a 55-52 win over host Chico in the first round of the Northern California Division II regional playoffs.
The 11th-seeded Falcons, who lost by 10 points to Chico in the first round of the CIF playoffs last season, outscored the No. 6 Panthers 38-18 in the second half to advance to the second round, where it will play at Mt. Eden on Saturday.
Down 17 at halftime, College Park (24-5) came roaring back via some big perimeter jumpers and second-chance buckets. Trailing by three with just seconds left, Chico's Angel Roldan's potential tying 3-pointer from the left corner hit both the front and back iron as well as the backboard before it bounced harmlessly to the floor.
The Panthers (21-7) seemed destined to make it two in a row over College Park when they closed the second quarter on a 20-2 run to push ahead 34-17 at halftime. The Falcons were just 3 of 11 from 3 and left at least 10 second-chance points off the scoreboard in the first half.
Meanwhile, Chico, behind the spirited play of seniors Josh Martin and Burak Karatekeli, was rolling. Karatekeli led the way through 16 minutes with 10 points, and Martin dished out five assists and nailed his first 3-pointer of the game seconds before the first-half buzzer to push the Panthers in front 34-17.
But in the second half, Martin, Karatekeli and the Panthers, who returned seven players off last year's team, were not as strong as College Park.
Sophomore Joe DeMers, who finished with a team-high 18, banked home a couple inside baskets courtesy of offensive rebounds and converted a layup in transition off a steal. Junior point guard Seb Flores swished a turn-around as the Falcons outscored Chico 17-8 in the third quarter and cut the deficit to single-digits heading to the fourth.
After the Falcons trimmed the lead to four points one minute into the fourth quarter, Karatekeli came back with a pair of 3s to extend Chico's advantage to 51-46 with 3 minutes, 30 seconds left.
Mikey Eggleton and College Park, which was just 7 for 19 from 3-point range, immediately swished a perimeter shot to cut it back down to two points with 2:49 left. The Falcons would get it to one a short time later, before DeMers delivered the go-ahead basket on a tip-in to push College Park in front for the second time in the period, 53-52 with 1:27 left.
Chico coach Kirk Bruchler called timeout, but it wasn't enough to rally his team, as Eggleton nailed two free throws to push the Falcons ahead, 55-52 with less than 10 seconds to go.
Karatekeli scored a game-high 24 points for Chico, and Roldan and senior Jesse Holmes added six apiece. Binsfeld contributed four in his final game in a Panther uniform.