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SOUTHERN SECTION BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS : Santa Margarita Dominates Servite : Division III-AA boys: Finnerans and a stingy Eagle defense keep Friars in check for 67-53 victory.


ANAHEIM — There wasn't any fancy analysis of Santa Margarita's 67-53 thrashing of Servite in the Southern Section Division III-AA boys' basketball championship game Saturday at Anaheim Arena.

"They just kicked our butts," Servite Coach Kevin Reynolds said. "We didn't bring our best game in here, but that's because they played so well and caused us to play like that."

The Eagles' stingy defense held Servite to 36% (17 of 47) shooting from the field. While the Friars missed their first seven shots, Santa Margarita scored the game's first 10 points and never looked back.

The Eagles (24-6) shot 57% from the field, out-rebounded Servite, and led by as many as 21 points in the third quarter to win the school's first Southern Section basketball title in front of a day-session crowd of 12,344.

Forward Brad Finneran put on a show, scoring 26 points, including four dunks. But there were many contributors to Santa Margarita's basketball clinic.

Brian Finneran, Brad's twin brother who returned for the playoffs after suffering a broken foot, scored six points.

More importantly, he teamed with Brad to play a suffocating defense on the Friars' post players, David Downs and Mark Seaton. Seaton entered the game averaging 12 points, but managed only six points on seven shots.

There was Santa Margarita junior Brendan Mulligan, who had 16 points and four rebounds. He scored six points in the opening 4 1/2 minutes of the third quarter to help the Eagles take a 47-29 lead.

And there was Eagle guard Brian Scoggin, who made two three-pointers in a 52-second span to help Santa Margarita take a 10-0 lead 4 minutes 28 seconds into the first quarter.

"I've always wondered what it was like to win a big game like this," Santa Margarita Coach Jerry DeBusk said. "This is a good group of kids. I like being around them and we've really enjoyed the ride they've given us."

Servite didn't enjoy the ride Saturday as the Eagles opened the second quarter with a 7-0 run to expand the lead to 26-12.

"We've been down by eight points in the playoffs and came back," Reynolds said. "But we did not respond well when we were facing a 13- to 15-point deficit. Man, when Santa Margarita sees a weakness, they pounce on it."

Downs, who had 17 points on five-of-11 shooting from the field, scored eight in the second quarter and helped cut the lead to 33-23 with 22 seconds remaining the quarter.

But Derek Yankoff made an acrobatic tip-in with two seconds remaining to push the lead to 12 at halftime.

Then Brad Finneran opened the floodgates.

He made four of five shots in the third quarter and his no-look, over-the-shoulder flip pass to Brian for a fast-break layup brought the Santa Margarita fans to their feet. The basket gave the Eagles a 47-29 lead with 3:15 remaining in quarter.

Two minutes later, Brad stole an errant pass and flew in for a dunk. With 48 seconds remaining in the third quarter, he scored on a layup to make it, 53-32.

Kristian Vallas, who had 17 points for Servite, made his fourth three-pointer to cut the lead to 56-43. Kieran Betts scored on a layup to make it 58-47 with 3:48 remaining, but the Friars drew no closer.

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