FRESNO — For a while Wednesday night, analyzing the offense of the Woodbridge High School basketball team was simple: Adam Keefe shot the lights out and the Warriors shot themselves in the foot.
That's the way it went for Woodbridge in the first three quarters in its Division II semifinal game of the Southern California Regionals against Washington from nearby Easton.
Then, in the fourth quarter, the Warriors shot themselves into Saturday's title game against Saugus at the Sports Arena by hitting 11 of 12 free throws--8 straight in the final 96 seconds--to win, 71-66, at Bullard High.
Woodbridge, the Southern Section 2-A champion, committed 30 turnovers in the game, 16 in the second half. But even that was not enough to offset an outstanding game by Keefe.
Keefe, a 6-foot 8-inch junior center, missed his first shot of the game and then connected on his final 10 attempts against a very good defense to finish with a team-high 21 points, along with 16 rebounds. Vince Bryan, a 6-7 forward, added 18 points for the Warriors (25-5).
"The difference is they were much bigger," Washington Coach John Pestorich said. "They're not only big, but they are good basketball players. We tried to pressure the ball, but in a half-court game, it's pretty hard to stop them.
"I think our game plan was sound, and we executed fairly well. But when the going got tough, they (Woodbridge) had a lot of character."
Keefe, Bryan and senior guard Dave Townsend (13 points) were the only Woodbridge players to score more than seven points. But this was hardly a three-man show, especially considering that Keefe scored just two points in the fourth quarter. Junior guard Robb Lee, for example, hit all four of his pressure free-throw attempts in the final 1:18 of the game.
"This is the time of the season when you go into warm-ups and just have to know that things will click in the game," Keefe said. "It's something that has to be there."
Washington (26-4), which started three sophomores, one junior and one senior, kept the defensive pressure on all game, and in addition to forcing turnovers had 15 steals. Marc Jones and Anthony Woods had five steals each. Sophomore guard Carl Ray Harris led the Panthers in scoring with 24 points.
"Everybody I called and spoke with said this guy (Pestorich) is the best coach in Fresno and that he's a real Fresno State aficionado," Woodbridge Coach Bill Shannon said. "They are a very defense-oriented team and very disciplined. They did a good job of stopping our offense."
Despite the 14 first-half turnovers, the Warriors trailed by just two at halftime, 33-31. Keefe had 13 by that time on 6-for-7 shooting from the field.
The teams were tied at the end of three quarters, 50-50, and then again with 4:45 left in the game, 58-58, before Woodbridge slowly pulled away. Townsend hit one free throw, Keefe had a slam dunk for his only points in the final 12:13, and Chris Deibert had a layup to put the Warriors ahead, 63-58, with 2:35 remaining.
The advantage increased to seven, 67-60, as Lee hit two free throws. It reached nine, 69-60, with 1:03 left as Townsend made both free-throw attempts.
Saugus defeated Oceanside, 47-39, Wednesday in the other semifinal game. The winner of Saturday's title game will go to Oakland for the state final March 21.