SANTEE — When the Santana High basketball players walked out of their locker room Thursday night, and the players had a quizzical look on their faces.
Nobody was smiling.
Did these faces belong to the same Santana team which had just knocked off Mount Miguel, 61-57, in overtime in the second round of the San Diego Section Division I playoffs?
Yes. Actually, the only player who deserved a dazed look was senior guard Tim Barry, who a few minutes earlier had left an implant of his forehead in a bleacher seat about three rows up. But that's the same play that left the Sultans, who blew an 11-point fourth-quarter lead, bewildered.
Santana had a 53-50 lead with three seconds left in regulation. They even had the ball, but at the Mount Miguel end of the court. Junior guard Jason Maloney would inbound about 10 feet on the Mount Miguel side of halfcourt.
In the timeout, he was told just to get the ball down at the other end of the court. Santana didn't even have to keep possession, just get a hand on the ball.
Maloney's pass sailed the length of the court . . . and beyond. In desperation, Barry dove, landing in the third row of the bleachers.
"All we had to do was make sure the ball stays in bounds," Barry said. "I saw the ball was going over my head. I just tried to get a finger on the ball."
He wasn't even close.
Mount Miguel took possession, and Matador Robert Griffith stood at the same spot where Maloney had stood. He passed to Domingo Rivera at the top of the key. Rivera banked it in from just outside the three-point arc.
"I thought it was a shot a little too hard," said senior guard Anthony Rivera, Domingo's brother. "But then it went swish, and we were in overtime."
Once in overtime, Santana dominated. The Sultans (22-2) outscored Mount Miguel, 8-3. Mount Miguel (10-13) didn't score until Anthony Rivera, who led Mount Miguel with 21 points, hit a pair of free throws with 59 seconds left in the three-minute period to cut the Sultans' lead to 59-55.