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Simi Valley Blows Lead, Drops Final

December 23, 1987|BOB SNELL | Special to The Times

LAS VEGAS — It was an unbelievable ending to an improbable comeback.

Simi Valley, seemingly home free, blew a 10-point lead with 1:23 remaining and then collapsed in overtime as Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas captured the Eldorado tournament with a 105-99 victory over the Pioneers on Tuesday night.

"We totally lost our composure down the stretch," Simi Valley Coach Bob Hawking said.

Gorman's victory was even more amazing considering the fact that the Gaels (7-1) trailed by 21 points in the third quarter.

Led by guards Matt Othick, who will play at New Mexico next season, and Kevin Soares, Gorman employed a trapping defense that forced numerous turnovers, allowing the Gaels to get back into the game.

After forcing a Simi Valley turnover, Soares drilled a three-pointer with 17 seconds remaining to send the game into overtime. Soares nearly won the game in regulation, but his 15-footer at the buzzer--after yet another Pioneer turnover--was off the mark.

The overtime period was no contest. Othick made two free throws, Soares tossed in a three-pointer, Othick sank two more free throws and Brian Sitter connected on four free throws to give Gorman a 103-92 lead with 45 seconds to play.

"We stopped being aggressive and attacking the basket," Hawking said. "We didn't get the ball into the right people's hands. We still have a talented team and we'll learn from this game."

With Simi Valley (8-1) leading, 69-50, late in the third quarter, Gorman used a 10-2 run to draw within 71-60 entering the final period.

Othick, who scored a team-high 40 points, hit a three-pointer to bring Gorman within eight, but tournament MVP Don MacLean, who paced the Pioneers with 46 points and 16 rebounds, led an 11-4 Simi Valley run that pushed the Pioneer advantage to 82-67 with 4:13 to play.

MacLean capped the surge with a thunderous slam dunk off a lob pass from guard Butch Hawking.

Gorman struck back, Othick and Soares tossing in back-to-back three-pointers, and eventually cut the lead to 88-82 with 2:02 left.

Shawn DeLaittre and Gerald Pickett scored to give the Pioneers a seemingly safe 10-point lead with 1:23 to go.

But Soares nailed a short jumper, Nick Bianchi scored off a steal, Othick dropped in a free throw and then stole a pass and drove for a layup cutting the Simi Valley lead to 92-89 with 40 seconds left.

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