California nips Brownsville in OT, 51-49
Thursday's Section 5 AA game between California and Brownsville lived up to the hype. Both boys' teams entered the game undefeated, and the Trojans remained that way with an intense 51-49 overtime victory.
The game was played in front of a raucous packed house in Brownsville as the teams continued their recent rivalry.
The game started out with both teams playing tight. Brownsville (5-1, 1-1) and California (5-0, 2-0) combined for 11 turnovers on their way to a 12-12 tie to end the first quarter.
“I think we were nervous. I thought with the seniors we have, we could handle it. But we didn't handle it at the beginning of the game,” said a relieved California coach Phil Pergola.
In the second quarter, California had more turnovers (nine) than points (seven). But Brownsville didn't capitalize on all those turnovers, scoring just nine points in the quarter. Neither team had more than a three-point advantage in the half and the Falcons went into halftime leading, 21-19.
“The first half we shot bad. I thought we could have been winning,” Pergola added.
The third quarter was a different story.
After trading baskets to open the quarter, Christian Floyd gave Brownsville a 27-23 lead. On the next possession, Tre Durkin stole the ball near mid-court, drove to the basket and finished off a traditional three-point play to up the lead to 30-23.
After a three-pointer by Malik Jackson for California, Durkin scored the next five points to end the quarter with the Falcons up 37-26. Durkin scored eight of his 10 points in the quarter.
“The beginning of the third quarter they came out and were playing hard, tough basketball,” said Pergola.
In the fourth quarter, Cal's Brian Fisher got a lay-up and a three-pointer from the corner on consecutive possessions to pull California to within 41-34.
With the score 45-37, Brownsville missed four consecutive free throws and Tanner Huffman converted his second basket in a row to pull the Trojans to within 45-39.
After a Brownsville miss, Demitri Clements came downcourt and got a huge basket to pull California closer at 45-41.
Brownsville then went back to the free throw line where Mike Murdock missed the front end of a one-and-one. California then got a short jumper from Evan Patterson to pull to within two 45-43.
On the Falcons' next possession, Josh Mapstone turned the ball over and fouled Clements on a drive to the hoop. Clements made the second free throw to pull the Trojans within a point at 45-44.
To complete the comeback, Huffman stole the ball, got a basket and was fouled. After sinking the free throw the Trojans had their first lead since the first quarter at 47-45.
With 1:07 remaining, Murdock went back to the line to shoot a one-and-one. Murdock sank both shots to tie the game at 47-47.
California tried to the hold the ball for the last shot, but with 24.4 seconds remaining, Fisher committed a turnover. Brownsville called time to set a final play, but the Falcons ended up not getting a shot off.
“I told my coaches going into the fourth quarter the team that loses this game is going to lose it at the free throw line,” a prophetic Pergola predicted.
In overtime, Brownsville scored first on a driving layup by Mapstone. Then Huffman tied it up at 49-49.
Fisher scored the winning basket on a lay-up for the final margin.
After another Mapstone turnover, the Falcons put Huffman on the line, where he missed the front end of the one-on-one.
After a Brownsville timeout, the Falcons had a shot to send it into a second overtime, but Cole Novotney missed a short baseline jumper and Floyd couldn't tap it in as time expired.
Fisher ended with a game-high 18 points for California. Huffman finished with 12, eight coming in the second half and overtime. Patterson added 11. For Brownsville, Floyd had 15, Murdock 12 off the bench, and Durkin 10.
Naz Victoria is a freelance writer.