ANAHEIM — Santa Monica Crossroads Coach Daryl Roper said a few of Calvary Chapel's fans made their opinions quite clear after the teams' meeting last week in the Division IV-A title game.
"There were a lot of negative comments after the game because they thought, 'Oh, you didn't play us, you cheated us out of this championship, you held the ball, you're scared of us,' all those comments," Roper said. "So I thought they felt a little slighted, like we didn't play like we should have, like we should have went right at them."
Roper was happy to accommodate his critics in Saturday's Southern California Regional title game. He gladly unleashed his Roadrunners, who took off for a 57-45 victory at the Pond.
"We had our own agenda this morning too," Roper said. "We didn't play that well when we held them to 41 points, so we're going to come out and play some strong defense this time. And we surely didn't hold the ball."
The decision to attack the Eagles on both ends of the court was timely as Calvary Chapel was running on empty from the start.
Having played in close road games at Del Mar and Bakersfield the same week, Calvary Chapel was showing fatigue early. Crossroads hounded Kevin Falconer before he reached midcourt, and his usual safety valve, Joe Ortiz, had problems, too.
"Joe Ortiz told me six minutes into the game that he was just exhausted and couldn't breathe," Calvary Chapel Coach Craig Falconer said. "He's had the flu and has been at 50%."
It didn't help that Crossroads has one of the country's best high school guards in Baron Davis, who scored 30 points, including 15 from the free-throw line.
"Last week I slowed the ball up a lot, and I heard it from the coach in practice," Davis said. "So today we wanted to put a lot of pressure on them and tire them out."
Falconer, who made three of his first four three-point attempts before missing his last four, said the two difficult road victories and the travel took a lot out of him, even before he had to face a recharged Crossroads team.
"Usually our offense consists of me driving in and kicking it out, and I just didn't have the legs for that today," Falconer said. "So we kind of stood around a little bit."
In the Roadrunners' 50-41 victory over Calvary Chapel March 7, Crossroads had stood around with a three-point lead for nearly five minutes to start the fourth quarter, then Davis made 10 of 10 free throws in the last three minutes to seal the victory.
"We knew we were going to get up and down the court today, that's something we didn't do last week, and they were going to have to keep up," Roper said.