The final buzzer jolted the Simi Valley High basketball team like an obnoxious telephone recording.
The time allotted for you to win has been exceeded. Please hang up your high-tops and try again next season. Taken off the hook were the Muir players who missed seven of nine free throws in the last minute. Largely because teammates grabbed rebounds on five of the misses, Muir held on to defeat Simi Valley, 58-55, Saturday night in the Southern Section 4-A final at the Sports Arena.
Dialing long distance throughout the game was Don MacLean, who led all scorers with 30 points, several coming on shots in the 16 to 22-foot range. But MacLean's outside play left no Pioneer taller than 6-4 to contest for rebounds with a Muir front line that stood 6-8, 6-7 and 6-7.
With Muir ahead, 56-53, with one minute left, Stacey Augmon missed the front end of a one and one.
Muir center Wayne Womack rebounded, however, and was immediately fouled.
Womack made one, but missed the second.
Augmon rebounded and passed to Derek Brown, who was fouled.
Brown missed two straight foul shots, but Augmon rebounded the second one and passed back to Brown.
Brown was immediately fouled, giving him another chance to put Simi Valley away.
He missed again.
Of course, the clock was running out on Simi Valley all the while. After MacLean scored with three seconds left to cut Muir's lead to 57-55, Travis Bice fouled Brown intentionally, giving him two shots.
Brown missed one more time, but sank the second shot along with Simi Valley's hopes.
Things began to look bleak for Simi Valley when Shawn DeLaittre fouled out with 3:43 left in the game. Without the 6-4 DeLaittre, the tallest Simi Valley player other than MacLean was 6-1.
Simi Valley's Tippy Wilcox and Steve Jenner, while shorter than most inside men, did their best to muscle inside. But the Muir trio of Augmon, Womack and Kirk Wagner towered above them.
Augmon, Muir's leading scorer and rebounder all season, was hampered by flu, however, and scored only 15 points, six below his average. Augmon was augmented so well by Wagner (12 points, seven rebounds) and Womack (11 points, six rebounds) that you hardly noticed his limited effectiveness.
The Pioneers played Muir even until the last two minutes by shooting at a high percentage. However, they eventually bowed under the Mustangs' height advantage. Muir out-rebounded Simi Valley, 39-26, in the game and 11-4 in the fourth period.
MacLean had 20 points in the first half, but the teams hit the dressing room tied at 32. Although the school is named after outdoorsman John Muir, you rarely saw this Muir trail.
"If I had the chance to hit a shot, I'd take it," MacLean said. "But it seemed like every time we would miss, they would get the rebound."
After MacLean bored through Womack in the first half, Augmon was assigned to cover the Simi Valley center during the second half. MacLean made five of nine field-goal attempts in the second half after making 9 of 14 in the first.
"Stacey did a great job of fighting off his illness and covering MacLean in the second half," Muir Coach Mike O'Connor said. "MacLean was as good as advertised, wasn't he?"
Simi Valley Coach Bob Hawking said the difference in the game was not the Muir defensive switch, but the Mustangs' rebounding advantage late in the game.
"When Shawn got into early foul trouble, he played hampered the rest of the way," Hawking said. "Shawn is a clutch player, and we missed him down the stretch."
DeLaittre, who had eight points and three rebounds, agreed with his coach's assessment.
"I had to ease off after the third foul," he said. "I couldn't play my usual physical game." And when Muir kept missing free throws in the final minute, DeLaittre sat squirming on the bench.
"That really hurt," DeLaittre said. "At least I would have taken up space."