Toward the end, high fives were slapping into Joe Small's right palm before he could finish his follow-through, and Nam Cao was giggling as he left the game with more than two minutes to play.
There may have been suspense early on, but by midway through the fourth quarter Wednesday night, there was none. Small and Cao combined for 48 points, and Bolsa Grande High School, which led by only six at halftime, beat La Quinta, 75-54, in La Quinta's gym.
"I'm ecstatic," said Bolsa Grande Coach Tony Lipold. "The last time we won (against La Quinta) in this gym was nine years ago."
"We didn't do anything," said La Quinta Coach Jim Perry, who held a 15-minute closed-door, but very loud, meeting with his team after the game. "We played bad, I coached bad and one particular official officiated bad."
The Aztecs (1-1, 7-8) fell behind, 50-40, late in the third quarter, largely because of six points each by Chris Constant and Small, who finished with 27. But the real damage came in the fourth, in a three-minute stretch during which two technical fouls were called against La Quinta, and the Matadors (2-0, 8-5) took a 60-42 lead.
The technicals, one on the bench and one on an Aztec player, both came after fouls were called. Bolsa Grande was just 1 for 3 on the technicals and 1 for 2 on the free throws, but Small twice scored on the possessions after the shots.
"The technicals had nothing to do with the outcome of the game; give the credit to Bolsa," Perry said.
The shots themselves may not have had much to do with the game, but from that point on, there was little hope for La Quinta. The defense broke down repeatedly, and more than once Bolsa Grande players found themselves with wide-open shots in the lane.
"I think they got rattled," Lipold said.
For the Matadors, whose own gym is but a few miles from La Quinta, the victory was cause for celebration.
"We were so hyped up before the game," said Cao, who finished with 21 points.
"We were socking lockers and yelling," Small said.
And that was before .
Garden Grove 64, Rancho Alamitos 61--Greg Lorenz scored 22 points to lead the Argonauts (1-1, 4-8) at Garden Grove. Randy Morales scored 25 for Rancho Alamitos, 1-1 in league.
Los Amigos 79, Santiago 66--Gene Altamirano scored 24 points and J.J. Jenkins added 19 to lead Los Amigos (1-1, 10-7).