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Titans win thriller, capture 2011-12 Mesa League banner Phillip Brents | Tue, Feb 21 2012 12:43 AM

For those fans arriving at Otay Ranch High School the evening of Feb. 10 for a scheduled 7 p.m. contest between the host Mustangs and visiting Eastlake Titans — a showdown for sole possession of first place in the Mesa League standings — all that can be said is that they missed a good game.

The Titans won, 56-55, to go up two games on the Mustangs in the league standings. They did so, however, in a 5:30 p.m. contest.

The Metro Conference’s Friday hoops schedule features a girls-boys double-header, with the girls contest normally starting at 5:30 p.m., followed by the boys match-up at 7 p.m.

Someone decided to pull a switch last Friday and, well, for those in the gym, they indeed witnessed a classic contest in the east side teams’ developing hoops rivalry.

(For the record, Eastlake swept the twin bill by defeating Otay Ranch, 52-38, in what turned out to be the prime time girls game.)

“It came down to the last second,” said Titan junior forward Blake Wilson. “It was tied up there for a while. It was close the whole fourth quarter.”

Adrian Tabula dropped in a three-point shot with just over a minute-and-a-half to play in the game to push the Titans out in front 54-51. The teams exchanged scoring opportunities down to the wire.

“They took a shot at the end and missed,” Wilson said.

Tabula finished the game with 12 points to complement the scoring of teammates Aaron Baltazar (a game-high 22 points) and Tyler Katz (13 points).

Andrew Jones led Otay Ranch with 16 points while twin brother Andre Jones scored 13 points.

The low-scoring game lived up to the standards set this season in the Mesa League: Defense wins.

“We play very good defense,” Wilson said. “We played some of the top teams in the county at the beginning of the season — Poway twice, Lincoln, Hoover, La Costa Canyon — and even though we didn’t do that well on the scoreboard, it toughened us up for league play. We have a lot of confidence we can come back in games. We don’t need that many possessions if we play good defense.”

The Titans’ competitive nature was further spotlighted the following night at San Ysidro High School as part of the Coaches Versus Cancer Showcase. Eastlake topped Rancho Buena Vista 56-55.

Baltazar led the Titans with 20 points, followed on the score sheet by teammates Travis Gardner (12), Katz and Ivan Sinclair (each with 10).

Eastlake trailed 41-36 entering the fourth quarter before rolling off a 20-14 scoring edge to nail down the non-league victory and, in the process, improve to 16-9 on the season.

The Titans made it official Tuesday (Feb. 14) after defeating host Olympian, 59-47, to reign as 2011-12 Mesa League champions. Eastlake carried a 9-0 league record into Thursday’s regular season finale against visiting Bonita Vista.

Otay Ranch rebounded with a 59-36 victory against Hilltop on Tuesday to improve to 7-2 in league play, 15-10 overall.

Cougars, Red Devils on the prowl
The San Ysidro Cougars and Sweetwater Red Devils remained on a collision course for Thursday’s second celebrated meeting of the South Bay League season after each team recorded decisive wins on Tuesday.

San Ysidro, which nursed a one-game lead over Sweetwater in the league standings, defeated Chula Vista, 77-66, while the Red Devils blasted Southwest 101-75.

The sixth-ranked Cougars (11-0 in league play, 23-4 overall) were led by five players in double figures: Javion Watson (15), Chandler Tarrant (14), Keeko Sinegal (11), Lynard Stewart (10) and Ronald Stewart (10).

Thomas Nollie led the Spartans (6-5, 11-14) with 19 points.

Sweetwater (10-1, 16-11) overcame a game-high 34-point showing by Southwest’s Alex Villegas to keep pace with San Ysidro. Junior Bautista led the Devils with 31 points, followed by teammates Spencer Mattox (27), Johnny Gonzalez (14) and C.J. Cadua (13).

Watson continues to lead the Cougars with a 27.0 game scoring average, followed by teammate Fernando Ahumada (13.1 points per game).

SuHi’s scoring leaders continue to be Mattox (21.3) and Bautista (18.7).

Watson had 24 points in an 87-48 win over Mar Vista on Feb. 3 and poured in 28 points in an 89-56 victory against Castle Park on Feb. 8.

Mattox led Sweetwater with 37 points in an 89-74 win against visiting Chula Vista on Feb. 8.

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