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Santa Margarita Escapes Despite Veal's Strong Performance : Division III: San Dimas guard scores 43, but the Eagles hang on to win, 75-73.


RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA — San Dimas guard Jeremy Veal almost proved that a great player can beat a good team.

Veal poured in 43 points, 18 in the fourth quarter, but third-seeded Santa Margarita had just enough to escape with a 75-73 victory in the first round of the Division III Southern California Regional boys' basketball playoffs Tuesday at Santa Margarita High.

The Eagles (25-6) shot 64% (30 of 47) from the field in advancing to the semifinals Thursday to play University of San Diego High, a 68-39 winner over Wasco.

Veal scored on a rebound basket to cut the lead to 73-70 with 25 seconds remaining and the Saints (24-6) quickly fouled to stop the clock with 22 seconds remaining.

Santa Margarita guard Brian Scoggin, who had 23 points and made five of six three-pointers, calmly sank both ends of the one-and-one to push the lead to 75-70, making Veal's off-balance three-pointer with two seconds remaining meaningless.

"I thought all year long we were pretty good defensively," Santa Margarita Coach Jerry DeBusk said. "But we never saw a player like Veal. . . . Is that guy good or what?"

Veal, a 6-foot-3 senior who has signed with Arizona State, made 16 of 22 shots, including six three-pointers.

"We tried to mix it up defensively," DeBusk said. "We ran a trap at him, some zones, man-to-man. I was ready to get the custodian to see if he could cover him."

Veal made nine consecutive shots at one point in the second half, but his final three-pointer needed to be a five-pointer, and the Eagles ran off the final two seconds when Brian Finneran lofted a 3/4-court pass to his twin brother Brad.

The Finnerans started the game strong scoring Santa Margarita's first six points. Both Finnerans made nine of 12 shots from the field, typifying the sharp shooting night Santa Margarita enjoyed.

"I think we played as good defensively that we could have," San Dimas Coach Gary Prestesater said. "But they did a good job shooting the ball. It was a heck of a game."

Brian Finneran finished with 19 points, nine assists, five rebounds, and five steals. Brad Finneran had 18 points and five assists.

The Finnerans and teammate Brendan Mulligan, who had 15 points and five rebounds, took turns guarding Veal in the Eagles' man-to-man defense.

"The game plan was to stop Veal, but obviously we didn't do that," Scoggin said. "Luckily, we were able to just trade baskets with them."

After Santa Margarita missed its first two shots of the game, they made nine of their next 10 to take a 21-15 lead after one quarter. The Eagles made 68% (15 of 22) from the field in the first half and didn't have a turnover, but still led only 36-28.

Brian Finneran's steal and dunk with a minute remaining in the third quarter gave Santa Margarita its biggest lead at 57-44.

But the Saints wouldn't fold. Veal made a three-pointer with three seconds left in the quarter, and he scored all but eight of his team's 26 fourth-quarter points.

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