See All-Tournament team below
By Mitch Stephens
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - After 31 minutes and 55 seconds of nonstop twists, turns and wills, Christian Aurand couldn't bear to watch.
The Simi Valley boys basketball coach turned his back, walked toward the locker room and waited for crowd noise and his bench's reaction to tell the story.
"I just told myself if the shot went in it wasn't meant to be and if it didn't go in please just let us get one final rebound, one final loose ball," Aurand said. "It was out of my hands."
Instead, it went into the hands of reserve Dominguez (Compton) guard Dominick Lacoste, who grabbed the rebound of Darrel Espy's 3-point attempt and banked home a basket with 1.0 second left giving the Dons a wild 84-83 victory in a terrific National Division championship game of the MaxPreps Holiday Classic at Torrey Pines High on Saturday night.
Lacoste, a 6-foot-1 junior, leaped over teammate and all-tournament selection Myron Green to score his seventh and eighth point of the night and the biggest two of his varsity career. He was only in the game because starter and another all-tournament pick Bryce Cartwright fouled out with 37.9 seconds left.
"I thought (Espy's) shot was in so I wasn't even thinking rebound," Lacoste said. "Once I got it I didn't have time to think. I knew time was running out and I got it up there. Thankfully it went in."
Said Cartwright: "That's just what kind of player (Lacoste) is. He's clutch man."
The putback was a fitting ending for the Dons (11-1), the country's 22nd-ranked team according to MaxPreps, who willed the victory over the previously unbeaten Pioneers (13-1) largely due to its long bench and work on the offensive glass.
Though tournament MVP Jordan Hamilton, one of the country's top juniors was superb with 18 points and 12 rebounds, Dominguez got contributions from every corner of the packed Torrey Pines gym.
Green scored a season-high 17 points. Robert Mandingo and Aaron Moore had 10 points apiece, Thurman Woods added eight and Cartwright seven. Only Moore and Cartwright are starters.
"I read somewhere where we have 13 Division I players," Hamilton said. "I think we showed off most of them tonight."
They absolutely needed all of them to knock off the resilient, relentless, sharp-shooting and well-coached Pioneers.
The best player on the court Saturday was 6-2 senior point guard Lorne Jackson, who scored a career high 39 points and added seven assists, five steals and five rebounds. He also made 20 of 22 free throws where Simi Valley was 25 of 28 as a team.
The second and third part of Simi's three-headed monster, Michael Meza and Brad Lewis, was terrific as well with 19 and 16 points, respectively.
Meza, the team's lone interior threat at 6-4 was quiet much of the night, until he caught fire in the fourth quarter with 10 points including a 3-pointer with 21.9 seconds left after a feed from Jackson to give Simi Valley its first lead of the second half 83-82.
The Pioneers had taken Dominguez' best punch and fought back from a 13-point third-quarter deficit.
"I thought we were going to win it (after that shot)," Meza said. "We'd fought so hard to get to that point. I knew we had to stop them one last time but we just couldn't get that last rebound. That's how it was all night."
Said Aurand: "I told the team during the timeout we just needed someone to get one rebound. It didn't happen but I couldn't be more proud. To come within one rebound, one second, one play of beating a top 20 team nationally for us is pretty unbelievable."
Which was a good description of the play from Jackson, who constantly had to fend off waves of Dominguez pressure-packed guards but did so flawlessly and fearlessly.
"That dude is a stud," Hamilton said.
Said Jackson: "To play with one of the country's top 10 teams right down to the wire feels great. It doesn't feel so good right now to lose."
Following a 10-0 Dominguez run in the second quarter, Simi Valley looked like it wouldn't make it a game. Dons' coach Russell Otis used his bench effectively to take control.
Espy started the run with a 3-pointer and Lacoste put in a follow shot and fastbreak hoop. Hamilton, a sleek and fluid 6-7 guard, finished it off with one of his two 3-pointers making it 42-29 with 2:05 left in the half.
Jackson gallantly kept Simi Valley in the game, scoring his team's final 10 points of the half to close to 48-38 at halftime.
Dominguez willed the lead to 13 a couple times in the third quarter when the Pioneers began to slowly chip away. Grant Keller, Lewis, Jackson and Meza all converted tough lay-ups off of offensive sets, helping to close the gap to 57-52 late in the third.
A 3-pointer by Danny Cox and tough rebound bucket by Spencer Feist cut it down to 59-57 with 7:33 left in the game.
"Never a doubt we would fight back," Jackson said. "This team has too much heart."
Said Hamilton: "Those guys were tough for sure. But we're pretty tough too."
And long. With Hamilton and Moore, a 6-8 junior, down low the Dons controlled the paint.
Moore immediately responded with a slam dunk and Cartwright knifed through the lane for a deuce and Dominguez seemed back in control. The Dons extended the lead to eight twice and went up 80-73 on a putback from Hamilton with less than two minutes to play.
But that's when the Dons lost some of their control.
Within a minute, Moore (elbow) and Cartwright (throwing the ball at a Simi Valley player) were both fouled out following technical fouls. The later came with 37.9 seconds left and after Jackson drained two foul shots, Simi Valley was within 82-80 and it got the ball.
Jackson drove the lane, kicked the ball to Meza who buried a 3-pointer from the left corner igniting a wild celebration from the largely Simi crowd.
"That was a great feeling," Meza said.
Not so much for Meza or the Pioneers after Otis called timeout and set up a final play. Hamilton drove and kicked to a wide open Espy who fired it up.
That's when Lacoste came to the rescue and Aurand couldn't watch.
The Pioneers had one last chance and Jackson actually got off a 3-pointer that hit off the back rim, but the referees said it came after the final horn anyway.
Dominguez had won its second straight prestigious national tournament after taking the Amare Stoudamire Classic in Florida the previous week.
"We're coming together and we're definitely battle-tested," Hamilton said.
And though the final score indicated otherwise, the Pioneers somehow seemed victorious as well.
"It's a tough loss, but our boys definitely grew up tonight," Aurand said.
At Torrey Pines HS
CAMPBELL HALL (North Hollywood) 70, COMPTON 62: Campbell Hall got the third scorer it was looking for in 6-7 sophomore James Johnson who had 17 points to go along with 20 from Dallas Rutherford and 18 by preseason All-American Jrue Holiday in a hard-fought victory.
Demar DeRozan had 23 points to lead all scorers for Compton, while Edgar Garibay added 20 and Kyrie Armstrong 10. Campbell Hall (11-4) outscored Compton 42-32 in the second half.
Though most showed up early to see the much anticipated matchup of DeRozan against Holiday, ranked the No. 5 and 6 seniors in the country by CSTV, Campbell Hall coach Terry Kelly said the key to the victory was the play of Johnson and Rutherford.
"People got to see that Dallas Rutherford is much more than a scorer," Kelly said. "They got to see all of his many skills. And James really exerted himself down low. If we can get that kind of production in the future we'll be that much tougher."
The game, the fourth in four days for all the teams, seemed tough to get into early as both teams struggled.
Compton (10-5) was in control most of the first half behind 6-6 DeRozan and 6-10 post Garibay, who drilled three perimeter shots including a pair of 3-pointers.
But Kelly put 6-7 junior Keegan Hornbuckle on Garibay in the second half and the move paid dividends. With largely just one threat - DeRozan - the Vikings were able to go on a 14-0 run starting midway through the third quarter to take a 57-50 lead with 6:20 remaining.
Compton, playing its seventh straight game without starting point guard Lorenzo McLoud, never climbed within four the rest of the way. It was the second win for Campbell Hall over Compton this year.
The Vikings, the defending state Division IV champions, have played one of the toughest schedules in the state with losses to Dominguez, Westchester (Los Angeles), St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio) and Serra Catholic (San Juan Capistrano).
"We're definitely toughening up," Kelly said. "This wasn't the prettiest win but we got a lot of good things accomplished."
DeRozan, who scored a tournament high 128 points, said Compton is still working out the kinks and will be much stronger once McLoud returns.
"We're just not doing a lot of the little things," he said. "It will come."
As far as winning the scoring battle with the UCLA-bound Holiday, the USC-bound DeRozan chuckled.
"I've been playing against Jrue since we were kids," he said. "He's obviously a great player and a tough match-up. He's so strong and athletic. It's always fun and challenging and I think the fans like to see us go at it. We'll be going at it at the next level as well."
GAHR (Cerritos) 96, FRANKLIN (Seattle, Wash.) 89: From a fan's standpoint, this could have easily been for the championship. Two teams almost identical in stature - neither starts anyone taller than 6-2 - strength, speed and quickness faced off in a wildly entertaining game.
Cameron Nettles had 34 points and Long Beach State-bound Casper Ware added 30 as Gahr (11-3) held off the nation's 17th-ranked team (8-2), which got 36 points from 6-foot junior guard Peyton Siva, 22 by Chris Holmes and 14 from Lavell White.
Siva drilled five 3-pointers in a wild fourth quarter that featured 59 points, including 32 from Gahr. The quarter included five ties and seven lead changes but finally Gahr put it away on a 3-pointer from Devin Golston and a lay-up by Nettles, breaking an 85-85 tie.
After a free throw, Karl Roby made two free throws and Nettles put it away with a ferocious breakaway dunk. He was an All-Tournament pick as was Siva.
"It was like they were a duplicate of us," Ware said. "Neither team has a big man and we both love to get up and down the court. I think at the end we were just a little hungrier. We wanted it a little more."
Said Nettles: "That was a lot of fun. I think we just didn't want to leave here on a bad note. To beat a nationally-ranked team like this will give us a lot of confidence going into league."
Ware was very impressed with Siva. "He's one of the best guards I've ever played against."
CAMPOLINDO (Moraga) 61, LONG BEACH JORDAN 56: Jack Trotter, a 6-9 senior post, coming off a 39-point performance, had 24 points including 12 in the fourth quarter as Campolindo pulled out the victory. Trotter, who scored 102 points in four games, even showed off a long-range shooting range with a 3-pointer in the first quarter. Teammate Will Shields drilled six 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 27 points. The duo combined for all but 10 of their team's points. Renell Gary had 21 points for Jordan (7-7), while teammate Keith Davis added 13.
DESERT VISTA (Phoenix, Ari.) 61, NEWARK MEMORIAL 39: Josh Lowery and Michael Proctor scored 16 points each and the Desert Vista defense allowed just 19 points through three quarters in the resounding victory. Bobby McCall and Ifeanyi Ezefor had nine points apiece for Newark Memorial (10-3), which got just four points from Fresno State-bound Chris Jones.
SHELDON (Elk Grove) 59, SANTA RITA (Tucson, Ari.) 48: Darius Nelson, a 6-6 freshman, had 22 points and Ramon Eaton 18 and Marcus Jackson 13 as Sheldon knocked off Santa Rita, which got 24 points from sophomore guard Terell Stoglin and 15 by Darnell Shumpert.
PASADENA 54, TORREY PINES 50: Marcus Harvey had 17 points and Pasadena allowed just 12 points in the middle quarters to pull out the victory. Torrey Pines (9-4), down 36-22 entering the fourth, caught fire in the fourth quarter with 28 points but the Falcons, who got 24 points by James Rahon, couldn't pull it out. The Santa Clara-bound Rahon finished with 126 points in the tournament.
At La Costa Canyon HS
EISENHOWER (Rialto) 82, MAYFAIR (Lakewood) 64: Del Wilson scored 22, David Chavarria 17, Kauri Black 16 and Andrew Bock 15 for Eisenhaurer, which led 52-26 at halftime and was never threatened. All-tourney selection Charles Odum scored 24 and Jeremy Pope 14 for Mayfair.
LA COSTA CANYON (Carlsbad) 63, MISSION HILLS (San Marcos) 60: Tony Cali had 19 points, Shawn Hempsey 16 and Dennis Kramer 12 as La Costa Canyon took control with a 19-8 run in the second quarter to defeat Mission Hills, which got 23 points by Taylor Darby and 20 from Adam Bemanian.
CLEAR BROOK (Friendswood, Texas) 72, SYLMAR 57: A 25-11 run in the third quarter put Clear Brook in complete command. Eric Milam had 22 points, Corey Collins 19 and Anthony Miles 14 for the winners. Four players scored in double-digits for Sylmar led by Darren Rosborough with 12 points and Gary Ricks with 11.
LA MIRADA 70, BISHOP'S (La Jolla) 55: Derrick Williams made 17 of 20 free throws and scored 39 points and La Mirada overcame an 18-8 first-quarter deficit to win going away against Bishop's, which got 23 points by Jywrell Wilson and 14 from Malik Love.
FREMONT (Los Angeles) 65, MISSION PREP 59: Tony Freeland had 21 points and Sean Price 17 as Fremont used a 16-9 run in the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime, then went on a 10-4 run in the extra period. Mitch Woolpert scored 30 points and made six 3-pointers for Mission Prep.
ARROYO VALLEY (San Bernardino) 70, COUNTRY DAY (Metairie, La.) 44: Joseph Richard scored 28 points, Jermaine Anderson 19 and James Sanders 11 as Arroyo Valley outscored Country Day 41-18 in the middle scorers to win going away. Eddie Ludwig was a one-man gang for Country day with 24 points.
RESEDA 56, TORREY PINES JUNIOR VARSITY 53: Mycal Mendez scored 27 points and Reseda went on a 19-10 run to start the game to beat Torrey Pines, which got a combined 33 points from Allejandro Ibarra, Cyrus Gahimi and Nick Kerr.
LEUZINGER (Lawndale) 85, REBET ACADEMY (LOS ANGELES) 79: Jerry Evans scored 19 points, Cameron Bell 17 and Ryan Williams 12 as Leuzinger held off a late charge by Ribet Academy, which got 21 points by Krystopher Faber and 19 apiece from Kevin Scroggins and Mardig Klladjian.
BISHOP O'DOWD (Oakland) 72, BAKERSFIELD 59: Justin Brue had 19 point, Roosevelt Kirk 17 and Jordan Turner 13 as Bishop O'Dowd used a 23-10 spurt in the third quarter to win going away. Alfonso Jackson had 17 points and Dijon Henry 14 for Bakersfield.
At Rancho Bernardo HS
LANGLEY (McLean, Virginia) 67, ST. JOHN BOSCO (Bellflower) 56: Derek Baker and Ryan Davenport scored 15 points each, Barrett Hunter added 12 and Thomas Kody 11 as Langley pulled away with a 15-10 edge in the third quarter. William Shamburger led a balanced St. John Bosco attack with 13, while Keith Price, Leon McFadden and Ceasar Guerrero added 12 apiece.
ORANGE LUTHERAN (Orange) 74, LACES (Los Angeles) 53: Tyler Funk had 14, Jacob Marthaller 13 and James Douglas 11 as Orange Lutheran used a 21-5 run in the second quarter to win going away. Michael Butler was a one-man gang for Laces with 27 points.
CARLSBAD 50, LEXINGTON (South Carolina) 43: Michael Tanael had 20 points to lead Carlsbad to fifth place over Lexington, which got 15 points by Devonta Taylor.
RANCHO BERNARDO (San Diego) 60, LODI 56: The host team started the game on a 15-6 run and it paid off as Wynton Bernard scored 18 points and Jason Heath 11. Scott Hubbard led Lodi with 18 points.
JAMES LOGAN (Union City) 86, CORONADO (Henderson, Nev.) 59: Logan jumped on the Nevada squad with a 26-9 run and never looked back as Howie Manzo had 21 points, Isaiah Moore 20 and Salalmon Siddiq 12. Cory Ford led Coronado with 18 points and Christian Hatch 17.
LEXINGTON (South Carolina) 44, HANDSWORTH (North Vancouver, British Columbia) 35: Not a single player scored in double figures for this 8 a.m. game, but Matt Jergenson had eight for the winners, who had four players score six. Ross Burrell tied for game-high honors for Hansworth.
PACIFIC HILLS (West Hollywood) 64, MONTE VISTA (Spring Valley) 63: Alex Osborne scored 17 points including a long jumper at the buzzer to give Pacific Hills the hard-earned win. Lorenzo Corley added 11 for the winners, while Julian Benarouche and Derrick Flowers added nine apiece. Geoff Hartman led all scorers with 26 points for Monte Vista while teammate Mike Watkins added eight.
PONDEROSA (Shingle Springs) 56, MONTE VISTA (Spring Valley) 28: Playing just 15 minutes after getting beat at the buzzer, Monte Vista was no match for the hard-nosed and disciplined Bruins, who raced to an 18-5 lead at the end of the first quarter and was never threatened. Rhett Beal, a 6-3 senior swingman, scored eight of his game-high 22 in the first quarter while Alex Martin added 13 and Steve Lackey contributed 11. Ponderosa (11-2) will go down as the tournament's top defensive team having allowed just 33.9 points per game. Click HERE to see more on this and the Pacific Hills-Monte Vista game.
At Francis Parker HS
LA JOLLA 57, RANCHO BUENA VISTA (Vista) 55: La Jolla got more outstanding games from Jerrell Agnew and Spencer Mayer while taking the title.
FRANCIS PARKER (San Diego) 65, SERRA (San Diego) 35: Alex Gipsman had 19 points and Jerome Fried 12 as Francis Parker went on a 31-13 run in the second half to win going away.
ST. JOSEPH (Santa Maria) 72, GRANITE HILLS (Apple Valley) 50: Jeff Blake had 19 points and Sam Schur 11 as St. Joseph broke out of the box with a 23-10 run to start the game and win going away. Traevon Simmons had 17, Justin Dunford 13 and Kevin Flagg 10 for Granite Hills.
FRONTIER (Buffalo Hamburg, N.Y.) 68, TEMESCAL CANYON (Lake Elsinore) 47: Paul Hoffman scored 23 points, Grant Wrap 14 and Jason Norsen and Jake Fladd 10 apiece and Frontier went on a 24-3 run to start the game and win going away. Joel Zinda and Kyle Pulley combined for 21 points for Temescal Canyon.
MVP: Jordan Hamilton (Dominguez)
James Rahon (Torrey Pines)
Michael Proctor (Desert Vista)
Chris Jones (Newark Memorial)
Cameron Nettles (Gahr)
Peyton Siva (Franklin)
Demar DeRozan (Compton)
Jrue Holiday (Campbell Hall)
Lorne Jackson (Simi Valley)
Michael Meza (Simi Valley)
Myron Green (Dominguez)
Bryce Cartwright (Dominguez)
MVP: Del Wilson (Eisenhaurer)
Charles Odum (Mayfair)
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For complete Day 2 coverage, CLICK HERE
For complete Day 3 coverage, CLICK HERE