Brownsville boys edge California in overtime

Brownsville's Deshawntae Bell (42) knocks the ball away from California's Kass Taylor in the third quarter on Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, at California.
Brownsville's Deshawntae Bell (42) knocks the ball away from California's Kass Taylor in the third quarter on Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, at California.
Photo by Jim Ference | The Valley Independent
| Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013, 12:11 a.m.

The California Area-Brownsville game had the best aspects of high school basketball – a comeback, a packed gymnasium going crazy with every shot as a game down to the wire and a little bit of extra basketball.

It was a Section 5-AA thriller.

This time, it was Brownsville that would come away victorious, pulling out a 61-57 victory in overtime at the Trojans' gymnasium, despite watching their 10-point lead evaporate in a 4-point fourth quarter.

“Second half, we tried to make some adjustments, got the kids to slow the ball down, to be patient, to take our time and execute,” California coach Steve Luko said. “We'd come back and the game would get close, then someone would force a bad shot or make a bad decision which we didn't need. I chalk it up to inexperience. We would come all the way back, bring it within two or three and then they would go on a run due to our mistakes.”

California (2-3, 1-2) found themselves trailing by double-digits several times in this game – they were down by 15 midway through the third quarter and 10 early in the fourth – but battled back.

Most impressive was the fourth, when they were able to control the pace of the game, frustrating the Falcons (4-2, 3-0) into turnovers. The Trojans outscored Brownsville, 14-4, in the frame to send the game to overtime tied at 48.

Malik Jackson scored a game-high 19 points – including four three-pointers – and tipped in the tying-basket with 13 seconds left on the clock.

“Malik was a big spark, he really hit some shots in the first half that kept us in the game,” said Luko. “He normally isn't that strong of an outside shooter, so those threes were a big plus. And of course he came through at the end of regulation.”

The first half Trojans were not a pretty sight to watch. They were held to just eight points in the first quarter and if not for three of Jackson's 3-pointers in the second, the Falcons might have run away with the game.

“That first half we didn't do anything right. We can only blame ourselves. We got caught up in their gameplan. They wanted to run and push the ball and we let them dictate. There was no crispness to our game in that first half; we couldn't make the shots. It was just an ugly half, offensively, but somehow we were able to go in only down seven,” Luko said.

He pointed to the bad decision-making that plagued his team throughout the game as an area needing fast improvement.

“The second half was a much better game, but still, too many turnovers, and that's what cost us,” Luko said. “A couple guys are trying to force too many shots and getting away from the offense, and that needs to be fixed. We have to try and regroup from here.”

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