The memory of losing to Servite in the Southern Section III-A Division final last season was still in Pauliasi Taulava's mind.
But the Morningside High center had a feeling that the outcome would be different when top-seeded Monarchs played second-seeded Estancia for the III-AA title Saturday afternoon at the Sports Arena.
"Pauly told us before the game that we'd win and you could bank on it," Coach Carl Franklin said.
So perhaps it was fitting that Taulava made six free throws in overtime to help secure a come-from-behind 95-85 victory.
"I just felt real comfortable about this game all along," Taulava said. "We saw (Estancia) in the summer and I just felt comfortable about playing them this time."
It was also a victory to savor for Morningside guard Stais Boseman, who played on last season's team that lost, 49-46, to Servite.
"It just feels tremendous," Boseman said. "After losing to Servite last year and coming from behind like we did, it feels real good. We just have tremendous pride and confidence in our team."
Early in the game, it appeared as if Morningside would win easily. The Monarchs led, 18-13, after a quarter and built their lead to 30-18 on a steal and a basket by guard Donminic Ellison midway through the second quarter.
Behind the strong inside play of forwards Matt Fuerbringer and Jim Faulkner, Estancia cut the Monarchs' lead to 33-31 at halftime. At the end of the third quarter, Estancia led, 57-50.
A jump shot by Faulkner gave the Eagles a 63-52 lead with six minutes 52 seconds remaining. However, Fuerbringer fouled out with 4:06 remaining in regulation and his team leading by seven points.
"When (Fuerbringer) fouled out, I felt we were going to take it because he was really dominating us most of the game," Boseman said.
Morningside battled back and Ellison sent the game into overtime with a three-point basket with 10.3 seconds left.
"During that situation, I knew we needed a fast basket and it just happened to be me who was the one to do it," Ellison said.
Boseman said he was confident that the Monarchs would win after Ellison's shot.
"I knew we had them after he hit that three-pointer," Boseman said. "I knew that in overtime it was going to be our game."
Behind Boseman and Taulava, the Monarchs outscored Estancia, 14-4, in overtime. Boseman, who played perhaps his best game of the season, led Morningside with 27 points and eight rebounds, including four points in overtime.
Boseman said he used the memory of last season's final against Servite as incentive.
"Last year, I didn't play hard until the fourth quarter," he said. "This time, I came out and played hard from the start. I wasn't going to let this one get away from us."
Morningside was led by Ellison, who scored 21 points. Taulava and reserve guard Chris Blunt scored 12 points each and reserve forward Dwight Curry added 10.
Estancia's leading scorer was Faulkner, who had 24. Fuerbringer added 21 points and forward Ty Schisler had 17.
The victory was Morningside's 13th in a row. The Monarchs are 21-6 and Estancia is 23-7.
Both teams advanced to the State regionals against undetermined opponents. Morningside will host its regional opener Tuesday night.
With a Southern Section championship secured--Morningside's first since it won the 3-A title in 1985--Franklin said he likes his team's chances of reaching the State final March 21 in Sacramento.
"I think that they can make it," he said. "It's an attainable goal. We don't know what the other divisions (in the region) are like but we feel pretty comfortable, especially with the first game at home."
But for the moment, Franklin and his team want to savor their championship.