by Christopher Mohr
(San Diego) March 10 - Harry Brazelton sank a free throw after time expired to give the Matadors of Mt. Miguel High School a thrilling 47-46 comeback victory over the Vikings of La Jolla High School. The game was one of several CIF San Diego Section championships played over the weekend at Jenny Craig Pavilion on the campus of USD.
Brazelton had the ball with just a few seconds left in regulation with the score tied at 46. While going up for a three point shot attempt, he drew a shooting foul a split second before the horn sounded, and was awarded three free throws. He would only need one. With the lanes emptied, Brazelton sank the first free throw attempt, making the other two superfluous.
"I knew if we played really good defense, we was going to get the last possession," said Brazelton, "so we just had to play great defense to get that one last stop, and we got it, and then I came down. It's my job to come through in the clutch like that."
The scoring for the game started as it ended: at the free throw line. A.J. Stanford sank two free throws for Mt. Miguel while Taylor Davis did the same for La Jolla. The trend of trading points continued throughout the first quarter, which ended with a slight lead to Mt. Miguel, 13-12.
In the second quarter, La Jolla took control of the game. Davis and teammate Jack Latta each scored four points to lead an 8-2 run by the Vikings to open the period. Davis later added a three point play and scored a layup on a back-door play to give La Jolla a 28-21 lead at halftime.
The Vikings' defense proved to be troublesome for Mt. Miguel. They thwarted several drives in the lane by Stanford and induced traveling violations on other plays. It forced the Matadors to shoot from outside, something that they would struggle with throughout the game.
"Their defense is strong. They had a lot of good defensive principles; they played a lot of good help defense," Stanford said about the Vikings.
The Matadors continued to struggle with their outside shooting in the third quarter, leaving them unable to reduce the seven point deficit they had at halftime. Once again Davis and Latta led the way for the Vikings, scoring a combined nine of the team's 11 points in the quarter, which ended with La Jolla leading 39-32.
Mt. Miguel's shooting heated up in the fourth quarter Yuel Hagos drained a pair of three-pointers to help the Matadors pull within two points, 42-40.
The game started to get very interesting when La Jolla put on a clinic in the art of killing the clock. They spread out the offense and passed the ball around, refusing to take anything but the most certain of shots. What actually worked for them, however, was missing the most certain of shots, a layup, and getting the rebound, allowing them to get a fresh shot clock and the opportunity to erode more game time.
Eroding game time only works if you follow up by scoring points and extending the lead. Unfortunately for the Vikings, they did not pull off the second part as well as they did the first. Brazelton was fouled twice late in the game and sank three out of four attempts to tie the game at 46. Mt. Miguel had possession of the ball in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter, working the ball around for one last shot before Brazelton went up for the shot and drew the foul that led to his game-winning free throw.
The foul call generated a lot of controversy among Vikings fans. Many felt that there was no foul, or that if there was one, it came after the clock expired. Others felt that Brazelton was being bailed out by the officials, and that he did not have a realistic chance of making a shot based on his body positioning.
It could be argued that fouling Brazelton in the fourth quarter was a major factor in La Jolla's loss. He scored seven points during that time frame, all from free throws--when the clock is stopped, and seven points was the margin of the Vikings' lead at the end of the third quarter.
La Jolla dropped to 19-11 with the loss. They travel to Huntington Beach Ocean View High School Tuesday for a state tournament matchup against the Seahawks.
Mt. Miguel improved to 26-6 with the win and faces the Gladiators of Cerritos Gahr High School at home Tuesday for their state tournament opener. The sectional title is the Matadors' first since 1968. The team's last appearance in the section finals was in 1975.
Mt. Miguel head coach Jay Rowlett talked about his team's strong finish: "Our kids never gave up, I think we went down nine in the fourth quarter, and we just fought back. Yuel Hagos made a big, big three to cut it to six or something like that. We just--momentum, got defensive stops. They were killing us on the boards, but we got stops when we needed to. They didn't quit."
Christopher Mohr is a freelance writer in the San Diego area and is a huge fan of the Chargers, Padres and Detroit Red Wings
Davis 25, Latta 10, Mills 5, Soumekh 2, Walsh 2, Greenberg 2 - Total: 46
Hagos 13, Brazelton 13, Stanford 11, Mitchell 6, Booker 3, Norton 1 - Total: 47