It took Royal High eight years and 13 tries, but the Highlanders finally beat Camarillo, 65-47, evening its record at 2-2 in the Marmonte League and 7-7 overall.
The Highlanders approached the game with an unusual pregame strategy. Royal Coach Jack McCrory, who lives in Camarillo had his team over for a spaghetti dinner Wednesday evening. The technique seemed to do the trick.
"We watched videos of the Ventura tournament and had dinner and the video got them fired up," McCrory said. "Before the tournament they told me that Royal had never won a varsity tournament and then we went out and won it."
Wednesday night the Highlanders took their time dismantling Camarillo, which dropped to 10-7 and 2-3 in league.
A tough Royal zone defense held Camarillo's leading scorer, Mitch Parrott, to 14 points on 6 of 17 attempts from the field.
While Parrot and crew were hitting anything but net, Brent Tapia was making life miserable for the partisan Camarillo fans, registering game-highs with 21 points and seven rebounds. Teammate Manny Escobar and Parrot also had seven rebounds.
Camarillo kept it close early by getting the ball inside and using a fast break, but Royal went ahead for good, 12-10, at the end of the first quarter when Escobar pulled down a rebound and muscled in a layup at the buzzer.
Royal hit all six free throws it attempted in the second quarter to help take a 26-23 lead at halftime. The Highlanders must have had another helping of pasta in the locker room, or perhaps got a taste of victory after eight years of frustration against Camarillo.
In the third quarter, Royal took a 10-point lead when center Ralph Blank, who finished with eight points, hit an eight-foot jumper in the lane for a 35-25 advantage. The frustrated Scorpions started following anything in black and gold and the rout was on.
Royal was in the bonus midway into the third quarter and converted 21 of 28 free throws compared to only 5 of 6 for Camarillo. Royal hit 13 free throws in the fourth quarter while stretching the lead out of the Scorpions reach.