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Southern Section Boys' Basketball Playoffs

Pioneers Circle the Wagons but Poly Wins in Overtime

Division I-AA: Leading by five, Simi Valley loses its touch and then the game, 59-54.

March 01, 1997|MIKE BRESNAHAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Simi Valley High nearly shocked the top-seeded team in the Southern Section Division I-AA boys' basketball playoffs.

But shock quickly turned to sadness for the Pioneers, who fell apart in overtime and lost to Long Beach Poly, 59-54, in the quarterfinals at Royal High on Friday.

Poly's Shea Anderson hit a layup with 41 seconds left in overtime for his only points of the game to give the Jackrabbits a 57-54 lead.

Simi Valley's Branduinn Fullove was short on a three-pointer with eight seconds left in overtime and the long rebound went to Poly's Malachi Edwards, who hit two free throws with three seconds left.

"We knew all along we could hang with them," said Simi Valley guard Ronnie Noel. "A couple breaks went bad for us."

So did Simi Valley's shooting.

The Times' fourth-ranked team in the region, the Pioneers (23-4) made 19 of 38 shots in the first three quarters and held a 45-40 lead going into the fourth quarter.

But they made only two of 12 shots in the fourth quarter and none of four in overtime, including a pair of missed bank shots down low by Rafael Berumen, who scored 26 points.

"That was uncommon for the big guy," Poly Coach Ron Palmer said of Berumen, who made 10 of 16 shots before overtime.

The loss of Stanford-bound guard Mike McDonald to a quadricep injury may have finally caught up with the Jackrabbits (25-4), who have played without him for several weeks.

But after scoring the final five points of the third quarter, they went on a 10-0 run to start the fourth and took a 50-45 lead on a layup by Richard Anderson with 4:50 to play.

Time for Simi Valley to fold. Or maybe not.

The Pioneers came back and sent the game into overtime on a three-point play by Berumen, who hit a layup, drew the fifth foul on Richard Anderson and tied the game with a minute left, 52-52.

"They played much better than I thought they were capable of playing," said Palmer, whose Jackrabbits have been in the Division I championship game two of the past three years, winning it in 1994.

Berumen put on a show in the first half, making five of six shots, scoring 13 points and getting Richard Anderson into foul trouble. Anderson picked up his third foul with 6:18 left in the second quarter and left until the third quarter.

With eight assists, Noel set the Pioneers' single-season record with 276. Not that he cared.

"That's great," Noel said, "but I'd rather have the win."

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