LA JOLLA — Before Andrew Chan made a three-point shot to give Kearny High School a 31-28 lead, gasps came out of at least three mouths.
Chan's shot gave his team the lead for good, and No. 6 Kearny (21-4, 8-2) beat host La Jolla, 38-33, Wednesday afternoon to win its third straight City Western League title. La Jolla (15-8, 7-3) finished second.
Before the shot, Kearny Coach Bill Peterson stood to shout instructions to his team, but gasped instead. Peterson had encouraged Chan to shoot from the outside, although he later admitted he would have preferred an inside shot with the score tied, 28-28, and about three minutes to play.
"I told him he needed to take up the slack because we weren't getting any weak-side offense," Peterson said. "But I wouldn't have minded a two-point shot, either."
Chan's teammate, forward Randy Robinson, said he stood at midcourt with his mouth open. After not making a field goal in the first half, Robinson had helped Kearny erase a halftime deficit in the third quarter. He did not want to see that work wasted.
"I just said, 'Please, go in!' " Robinson said.
La Jolla Coach Rick Eveleth had more confidence in Chan. He said he was sure that Chan would make the 20-footer.
He hoped one of his players would come out and put a hand in Chan's face. When that didn't happen, all Eveleth could do was gasp.
"He's a good player, he picks his spots," Eveleth said. "I wasn't surprised he made it. I just said 'Uh, oh.' That shows you the effectiveness of the three-pointer. That was the turning point in the game. The momentum changed after that."
Said Chan: "I had been missing the whole game, but I wasn't nervous when I shot it. I just let it fly and hoped it would go in."
Chan, who had not scored before the three-pointer, also made two free throws with 40 seconds left after La Jolla's David Berteaux had cut Kearny's lead to 34-33 with a three-pointer.
But Chan only had a chance to be a hero because La Jolla let a 19-15 halftime lead become a 24-22 deficit by the end of the third quarter.
La Jolla's Sean Rodgers was averaging 17.2 points before the game. But he was on the bench because of foul trouble for most of the second and third quarters. He finished with eight points before fouling out with 1:07 left.
Without Rodgers's scoring, La Jolla managed only three points in the third quarter. After leading at halftime, 19-15, La Jolla trailed, 24-22.
Robinson made a falling-down 12-footer with one second left in the third quarter to put Kearny ahead. But before that, Robinson scored only eight points. Robinson finished with 14 points, well below his average of 19.4.
When Peterson was asked about the first three quarters, all he could do was hold his nose.
But Eveleth said it was tough defense, not poor shooting, that caused the low score.
"I don't think I've seen two teams play defense that well all season," he said. "We did a good job at stopping their inside game, which is their strength. We just ignored Chan at the wrong time."
In other City Western League games:
University City 53, Mission Bay 49--John Pippen scored 20 points to help University City (12-9, 6-4) clinch third place. Pete Wilson scored 11 points for Mission Bay (10-15, 5-5).
USDHS 82, Clairemont 79, 2 OT--Laurie Massa banked in a 30-footer to send the game into a second overtime and University of San Diego High School (7-14, 3-7) went on to win. Clairemont (5-18, 1-9) held 13-0 and 20-4 leads in the first quarter, and led by 20 points at another point in the first half. But USDHS outscored Clairemont, 24-11, in the fourth quarter. E.J. Pele missed two free throws with no time left in regulation that could have won the game for Clairemont. Pele made two in the second overtime with five seconds left to put Clairemont up by three before Massa made the desperation shot. Ray McDavid scored 34 and Lamont Jackson had 21 points for Clairemont. John Montalli scored 22 points for USDHS.
CITY EASTERN LEAGUE
Madison 85, Mira Mesa 66--Three players for second-ranked Madison (22-2, 10-0) scored 20 points or more. Andre Mitchell led with 26. Jeff Alexander scored 23 with 24 rebounds and Jeff Harper added 20. Tal Miller scored 21 points for Mira Mesa (9-13, 1-9).
Point Loma 59, Serra 55--Jeff Johnson scored 16 of his 19 points in the second half for Point Loma at Serra. John Louis added 16 for Point Loma (14-13, 4-6). Serra (8-14, 2-8) was led by Jermaine Jordan's 15 points.
Patrick Henry 56, Morse 53--Terrence Hamilton scored 26 points for Patrick Henry (15-8, 7-3). The victory secured second place for Patrick Henry. Morse (14-9, 6-4) was led by Willie Davis and Mark Lawrence with 13 points each.
Sweetwater 70, Bonita Vista 27--Pressure man-to-man defense helped Sweetwater blank host Bonita Vista in the third period. Charles Starnes and Scott Catlin scored 17 apiece for Sweetwater (12-12, 9-4). John Sikute had 12 for Bonita Vista (0-21, 0-12).