PALM SPRINGS, Calif. –
In the wildest, most controversial championship game in MaxPreps Holiday Classic history, Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.)
and its cast of young bucks broke the hearts of Georgia power Pebblebrook (Mableton)
in the final second for a 67-66 victory.
Clemson-bound senior guard Ty Hudson
gave Pebblebrook a 66-65 lead with a running bucket that left just .8 seconds remaining for Sierra Canyon.
But instead of trying a length-of-the-court miracle attempt, the Trailblazers opted for trickeration – and it worked to the astonishment of the large crowd assembled at Rancho Mirage High School.
Sierra Canyon’s Adam Seiko
ran the baseline while teammate Devearl Ramsey
slipped in front of Pebblebrook standout Trhae Mitchell
, who plowed over Ramsey and was whistled for a foul.
That sent Ramsey to the line, where he converted a pair of free throw attempts to give national No. 21 Sierra Canyon (8-1) an improbable title game victory.
It was the second time in as many days on the same baseline at Rancho Mirage the strategy produced a foul call. Cathedral Catholic (San Diego)
did it to Beverly Hills
on Monday, but failed to convert the free throw and lost.
Sierra Canyon head coach Tyrone Nichols was in the gym to see it.
“We did remember it, absolutely,” Nichols said. “A couple of assistant coaches yelled it out as well so we thought, you know what, ‘Let’s go for it.’”
It was no accident that Ramsey was picked to try and draw the foul. A two-time gold medalist with USA Basketball, the 5-foot-10 sophomore is savvy beyond his years. He finished with 10 points and three assists on the night.
“I really thought the play was going to be to Cody Riley
for the Christian Laettner shot,” Ramsey said. “I tried to give it my all when my coach told me to take that charge. He (Pebblebrook's Mitchell) had no idea I was coming and I when I heard that whistle I jumped for joy.”
Meanwhile, Pebblebrook was stunned. Distraught. Devastated. The Falcons controlled the action for much of the game and led by as many as eight early in the fourth quarter.
But things began to unravel with 3:15 left when head coach George Washington was whistled for a technical. Seiko converted one of two free throw attempts, then buried a triple from the corner on the ensuing possession that made the score 62-60.
Pebblebrook big man Derek Ogbeide
(14 points, seven rebounds) fouled out a minute later, leaving the paint open for Sierra Canyon’s Riley – tournament Co-MVP – to go to work. The 6-8, 240-pound sophomore powered his way to a couple of late baskets and finished with 14 points and six boards.
Hudson, who shared MVP honors with Riley, scored a game-high 23 points for Pebblebrook. The Falcons looked the part of a national Top 25 team.
Gritty, undersized guard Jared Harper
added 16 points for the Peach State squad.Remy Martin
deserves special mention for Sierra Canyon. The electric 5-10 sophomore scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half, keeping the Trailblazers afloat while Ramsey and Riley sat on the bench saddled with foul trouble.
Pebblebrook led 40-36 at the break.
“If Remy doesn’t keep us in the game in the first half, we don’t win the game,” Nichols said. “He was that valuable in the first half.”
Sierra Canyon’s rotation features two seniors (Robbie Feinberg
and Juwan Trotter
), a junior (Ramsey), four sophomores (Martin, Riley, Seiko and Terrance McBride
) plus a clutch freshman in Michael Feinberg
Yet that youthful group has stepped up in two of the nation’s toughest holiday tournaments with seven wins in a row and a first-place trophy. And they’re doing it without a starter in Top 100 sophomore prospect Ira Lee
, a 6-8 forward. Lee is injured and expected to miss the remainder of the season.
“The real story is the youth of this team and their maturity,” Nichols said. “Pebblebrook is Top 25 (national) team. They are really good. We got down eight, nine whatever it was, but the huddle was really positive. We kept hanging in there.”
Although Tuesday night’s win might be the biggest in school history for Sierra Canyon, the Trailblazers won’t have much time to celebrate. They head to Arizona this weekend for dates at Hoophall West with DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.)
and Corona del Sol (Tempe, Ariz.)
– two teams that may land a spot in the next batch of national rankings.
THIRD PLACEMater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) 54, Etiwanda (Calif.) 41
Mater Dei, California's four-time defending state champions, overcame a familiar Southern Section foe to end its run in Palm Springs with a 3-1 record.
The Monarchs trailed by as many as 13 points in the opening quarter but responded with a 34-7 run that spanned the second and third quarters.
Senior guard Rex Pflueger
, who will head to Notre Dame next fall, sparked Mater Dei with a game high 22 points to go along with four rebounds and four assists. K.J. Smith
added 13 points.
All-Tournament selection and Pepperdine signee Kameron Edwards
led Etiwanda with 21 points.
Tuesday's meeting was the fourth between the two teams since the 2012-13 season. Mater Dei has emerged as the victor in three of those outings.