With 14 seconds left and his team ahead by two points, Fremont High's Russell Gilson knew what the Pathfinders had to do.
"Keep No. 24 away from the ball," Gilson shouted to his teammates during a timeout. "Keep him away."
The man wearing No. 24, El Camino Real's Sean Davis, had already scored 31 points for the Conquistadores in the North Hollywood basketball tournament championship game Saturday night.
Davis had been a one-man attack force for El Camino, making 12 of 18 shots from the field and all seven of his free throws.
But Davis never got a chance for a game-tying shot. Neither did any of his teammates.
Instead, Fremont's Brad Ware intercepted a pass by El Camino's Shaun Stephenson with 10 seconds left. Six seconds later, Ware was fouled and made two free throws to clinch a 66-62 win and the tournament title.
At the buzzer, El Camino Real's Adam Sacks missed a layup, capping a frustrating game for the senior guard, who had played so well for the Conquistadores in their first two tournament games.
Sacks finished with 16 points, but made only three of 17 shots.
"I think he was trying to do a little too much," El Camino Real Coach Mike McNulty said. "Without Rick Hergott, Sean and Adam feel they have to score more."
Hergott, a starting senior guard, missed the entire tournament with strep throat. McNulty had said throughout the tournament that the absence of Hergott--an adept ball handler--would hurt the Conquistadores.
It was never more evident than in the second quarter against the Pathfinders.
El Camino Real had taken an 18-15 lead after the opening eight minutes, but succumbed to Fremont's full-court press in the second quarter.
The Conquistadores had seven turnovers in the quarter, and during one stretch failed to get off a shot attempt on five straight possessions.
El Camino Real went from a three-point lead to an 11-point deficit, 31-20, with 4:05 left in the half.
Fremont led at the half, 35-29, and Davis already had 16 points. The junior forward, who had put El Camino Real in the finals with a last-second basket against Manual Arts the previous night, scored from all over the court.
Davis, however, was the only Conquistador to score with any consistency. Sacks was 2 for 12 shooting in the first half. As a team, El Camino Real shot just 29%--10 of 34--in the first half.
The Pathfinders (8-2) increased their lead to 49-41 after three quarters. The play of the 6-6 Gilson was the main reason Fremont stayed ahead. The senior forward worked his way inside for a team-high 19 points.
After closing the gap to four points, El Camino Real fell behind by nine with 2:05 left. Davis then made a three-point play.
After a Fremont turnover, Kevin Shaw hit a jumper to bring El Camino Real within four with 1:03 left. Darren Dafney missed a free throw, and Davis hit from the corner to make it, 64-62, Fremont with 36 seconds left.
Brian Jones got loose on an inbounds play for Fremont, went in all alone for a layup but missed, giving El Camino Real a shot at sending the game into overtime.
But Ware, who was named the tournament's most valuable player, came up with the crucial steal and the free throws to drop El Camino Real to 6-4 for the season. Ware finished with 12 points.
In the third-place game, Manual Arts defeated North Hollywood, 53-44. Reseda captured the consolation title with a 65-58 win over Granada Hills.
EL CAMINO REAL--Davis 31; Shaw 5; Wiseman 2; Sacks 16; Stephenson 8.
FREMONT--Gilson 19; Dafney 7; Lindsay 4; Ware 12; J. Jones 4; Kyles 11; B. Jones 7; Kerny 2.
MANUAL ARTS--Bouvay 17; Small 13; Williams 7; Reese 6; Charlot 4; Harris 4; Rhodes 2.
NORTH HOLLYWOOD--Barnes 20; Woolery 10; Nappi 6; Bernstein 6; Patterson 2.
GRANADA HILLS--Puathasnanon 16; Gurian 10; Smith 10; Bishop 10; Gray 7; McBride 5.
RESEDA--Wills 17; Williams 16; Session 8; Spears 8; Nickelson 6; Stepmer 4; Ricks 2; R. Crawford 2; J. Crawford 2.