In a game where five players scored 20 or more points and two teams combined for 197 points, reserve guard Jim Brannan of La Quinta High School scored four critical points in overtime to give the Aztecs a 101-96 victory Friday night over host Rancho Alamitos.
Brannan made all four of his free throws in the three-minute overtime period, including two with only 13 seconds remaining to keep the Aztecs one game behind league-leading Bolsa Grande after one round of play.
Two-time defending league champion Rancho Alamitos had the rare distinction of having three players score 28 or more points and somehow lost a game where defense took the night off. Forward Craig Paquette led the scoring parade with 30 points, followed by teammates Randy Morales (29) and Mark Flores (28).
La Quinta had an opportunity to win the game in regulation, but guard Kenny Bennett made only one of two free throw attempts with three seconds remaining and the game was tied, 88-88, when the buzzer sounded.
If 176 points in 32 minutes wasn't enough, the teams opened the overtime period with 12 points in a little over a minute of play and then La Quinta gained the win by hitting its free throws down the stretch.
Afterward, both teams embraced each other at midcourt and it was difficult to determine which coach had won or lost as the fans ran onto the court.
"That was one of the wildest games I've ever been associated with, but I knew that going into the game," said La Quinta's Jim Perry. Later Perry told his team, "You're going to see a lot of games in your life, but you'll never see one better than this."
Losing Coach Tim Munson concurred.
"That was as good as any game I've ever watched or been associated with," Munson said. "The fans, players and coaches couldn't have asked for anything more."
They certainly didn't get an more emotional than this game was. At one point in the fourth quarter, Perry sent six players out on the court following a timeout and La Quinta was cited for a technical foul.
Not to be outdone, the Rancho Alamitos fans began to chant, "Defense, Defense, Defense" late in the fourth quarter after the Vaqueros had taken a one point lead on a Flores follow shot. The score read: Rancho Alamitos 88, La Quinta 87, at the time.
La Quinta hit the century mark when Bennett made a free throw with 10 seconds remaining, meaning the Aztecs had averaged 3.4 points per minute against the smaller Vaqueros.
"That's what happens with a team our size," Munson said. "We couldn't stop their second and third shots. We allowed way too many follow shots."
Guard Scott Campbell, who transferred to La Quinta from Denver this season, paced the Aztecs with 29 points. Brian Joe, a six-foot 10-inch center, added 20 points and 16 rebounds. The Aztecs needed every point, overcoming a six-point deficit in the last quarter to send the game into overtime.
"When Kenny went to the line and made his first free throw to tie the score (88-88), I figured he make the second and the game was over," Perry said. "Brannan won the game for us. He wouldn't quit. The worst thing that could possibly happen to him was losing, and he wasn't going to let that happen."
Bolsa Grande 83, Los Amigos 71--The Lobos led at the half, 38-35, but a series of turnovers let Bolsa Grande take control. Nam Cao scored 20 points for Bolsa Grande (5-0), teammate Joe Small 17 and Thurman Brown 16. Gene Altamirano scored 21 for Los Amigos (2-3, 11-9).
Garden Grove 65, Santiago 45--Octavio Contreras scored 22 points and Tony Woodward added 10 to lead the Argonauts to the easy win at Santiago.