Fri, Feb 22 2013 12:25 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
The fans flooded the floor twice at the conclusion of Wednesday’s San Diego Section Division I boys basketball playoff game at Eastlake High School. The second time, however, they were allowed to stay to celebrate a 75-74 cliffhanger victory by the host Titans.
“It was crazy … it was loud, it was exciting,” Eastlake senior Blake Wilson summed up.
The fifth-seeded Titans (20-9) appeared to have the game in hand, boasting an 11-point lead at halftime. But two things conspired to change that in the second half: an ankle injury to EHS star Aaron Baltazar and the torrid shooting by SuHi junior Spencer Mattox.
Baltazar, the 2011-12 Mesa League Player of the Year, left the game and was transported to a nearby hospital. His absence had to play a role in the inspired comeback by the 12th-seeded Red Devils (14-12).
A three-point shot by Mattox, who led all players on the court with 39 points, staked the visitors to a 60-57 lead with 6:10 to play in the fourth quarter. The game was tied at 71 with 1:09 left.
Tyler Katz dropped in a pair of free throws with 21.4 seconds to play to put the hosts up by three points but a Mattox bucket with 12.3 seconds left made it a one-point game.
Sweetwater got the ball with 5.1 seconds to play and that’s when the decibel level in the gym rose to a thunderous level. SuHi’s Charles Cadua launched a last-second shot that missed. But teammate Alvin Imperial put in the rebound.
Chaos ensued as fans mobbed the Titans in a frenzy. But who actually won the game?
Did Imperial’s bucket count? After a discussion between the officials, it was decided that time had indeed expired.
That only increased the home fans’ frenzied second celebration.
Had Sweetwater initiated the play just a half-second sooner, the Red Devils would likely have walked out of the Eastlake gym with a stupefying victory.
The video of the closing seconds is sure to be replayed untold times by the Devil Nation.
The Titans advance to Saturday’s quarterfinal round at fourth-seeded Patrick Henry (16-13) after the Patriots disposed of 13th-seeded Granite Hills 78-36.
Ivan Sinclair led Eastlake with 17 points, followed by Katz with 16 points, Baltazar with 13 and Marco Meza with 12.
“It was a great first round win for us, we hadn’t had one in a couple of years,” Wilson said.
Mesa League champion Mater Dei Catholic, seeded second in Division IV, will host seventh-seeded Coronado (16-11) after crushing 15th-seeded North County High Tech, 93-14, in first-round play on Wednesday. The Crusaders (10-0 in league play) improved to 23-5 behind 16 points from Robert Harris, 14 points from Beda Galleta and 10 points from Spencer Vering.
San Ysidro, seeded fourth in Division II, eliminated 13th-seeded West Hills 82-65. Lynard Steward led the Cougars (23-7) with 19 points while Orlando Quionoes and Ron Steward each had 16 points.
© 2009 The Star-News