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Cougars cool off Red Devils in battle of South Bay League's best Phillip Brents | Fri, Jan 27 2012 02:32 PM

Every time it seemed like the Sweetwater Red Devils had the visiting San Ysidro Cougars on their heels in last Friday’s high impact South Bay League boys basketball game, senior Javion Watson would put his team on his shoulders.

Watson scored a game-high 31 points — par for his season average — and collected seven rebounds, three steals and four assists to lead the eighth-ranked Cougars (5-0 in league play, 17-3 overall) to a 73-64 victory in a match-up of league unbeatens.

“He’s one of the top players in the county for a reason,” San Ysidro coach Terry Tucker said. “He’s one of the guys you like to have on your team in big games like this. He’s our senior leader. We have a young team around him but they work well together. We’d like to see if we can make some noise in the Division I playoffs.”

The Cougars were repeatedly tested throughout the contest by a scrappy Sweetwater team that seemed to run in spurts.

The Devils battled back to take a 32-29 lead with 1:21 left in the second quarter and extended that margin to 37-34 in the final minute of play in the first half.

But that lead evaporated in amazing fashion. A field goal by the visitors cut the SuHi lead to 37-36. The Cougars got the ball back with three seconds to play and Keeko Sinegal launched an arcing half-court shot just before the halftime buzzer sounded.

The ball dropped cleanly through the basket after time had expired.

39-37 San Ysidro.

If there was any part of their game that doomed the hosts, it was at the free throw line. Poor shooting from the charity stripe throughout the contest, particularly in its waning stages, prevented the Devils from finally catching the visitors or possibly even moving in front at critical junctures.

Credit San Ysidro for not losing its collective cool.

“We’ve played Hoover, La Costa Canyon, Morse and Poway, so we’ve seen some of the top teams this season,” Tucker said. “Our team has more confidence in these types of pressure situations this year more than in past years.”

The Cougars had four players reach double digits in scoring in last Friday’s game. Joining Watson with impact performances were teammates Ronald Stewart (15 points, seven assists), Sinegal (12 points) and Fernando Ahumada (10 points, 13 rebounds, eight blocks).

Chandler Tarrant contributed seven rebounds and six assists to go with three points in a key support role.

Spencer Mattox led the Devils (4-1, 9-10) with 23 points, followed on the score sheet by Junior Bautista (18 points) and Johnny Gonzalez (13 points).

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