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VALLEY/VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Santa Clara Misses Its Chances

V-AA: Saints can't take advantage of free throws and fall to Pacific Hills in overtime, 82-76.

March 07, 1998|LAUREN PETERSON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

IRVINE — Never mind Santa Clara High swingman Nick Jones' left foot.

The Saints' season-long Achilles' heel was what really hurt.

Santa Clara battled back from an 11-point third-quarter deficit to force overtime, but like many of their free throws, the Saints fell short in an 82-76 loss to Pacific Hills in the Southern Section Division V-AA boys' basketball championship Friday at the Bren Events Center.

"One game we make 'em and the next one we don't," said Santa Clara center Ryan McGill, who missed two free throws with 47 seconds left in regulation and the Saints trailing, 67-65. "It's really frustrating."

McGill wasn't the only Santa Clara player to miss from the line in the closing seconds of regulation.

B.J. Ward, who had 34 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, missed one of two free throws with 17 seconds left.

The Saints (14-13) made 11 of 26 free throws in the game. Pacific Hills (24-7) was 16 for 30.

"Free throws and turnovers cost us the game," said Ward, who made 15 of 22 shots and four of eight free throws. "It was too just many mistakes."

Poor free-throw shooting was a contributing factor in several Santa Clara losses this season. But this defeat proved the most painful.

"I really wanted to get this championship," Ward said.

Despite the poor shooting and 18 turnovers, the defending-champion Saints were within range of their 15th crown in 17 title-game appearances, thanks mostly to Ward and Jones.

They combined to score all 25 of Santa Clara's points in the fourth quarter, the final 33 points in regulation, and 36 of the Saints' last 41 points.

"These two were outstanding," Santa Clara Coach Lou Cvijanovich said of the Saints' two junior standouts. "I just wish our other three guys had showed up too. Basketball is not a two-man game."

Jones, who missed 20 games this season because of a broken left foot, was outstanding in the fourth quarter.

He scored 17 of his 25 points in the final quarter, including the shot that sent the game into overtime.

Conrad Adamczak, who had 27 points and eight rebounds for Pacific Hills, sank one of two free throws with 10 seconds left to make it 68-66.

But Jones drove through the lane and scored on a finger-roll with 1.3 seconds left.

"I realized this could be it," Jones said.

That was nearly it for the Saints, who were outshot, outrebounded and outplayed in overtime.

Adamczak had five points in overtime and Charles Pagan scored four his five points and grabbed three rebounds for Pacific Hills.

The fourth-seeded Bruins won in overtime for the second consecutive game. Pacific Hills knocked off top-seeded Montclair Prep, 83-82, in triple overtime in the semifinals.

"We felt confident," Adamczak said. "We were just saying, 'Here we go again.' But we were comfortable in that situation."

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