SACRAMENTO — The half-court offense abandoned the Los Angeles Price boys' basketball team Saturday afternoon in the Division V state championship game, leaving the Knights without perimeter shooting and confidence along the way.
All Modesto Christian had to do was avoid beating itself, and the Crusaders did that by jumping out to an early double-digit lead and holding off a late charge for a 71-53 victory at Arco Arena.
The Knights made just 16 of 58 shots (27.6%), including one of 12 from beyond the three-point line. Price made one basket from the perimeter in the first half, when it fell behind, 32-19.
Price Coach Michael Lynch acknowledged that outside shooting has been a weakness, even while the Knights were winning a record four consecutive state titles between 2000-03.
"Fortunately, for us [we never shot poorly] in this game," he said. "We shot the ball horribly. Sometimes they go in when you're flowing and sometimes they don't."
Price was also hurt by 22 turnovers, half coming on traveling and charging violations. Lynch also questioned whether the Knights gave their best effort.
"This is one of those games where they were on the floor going for the loose ball and we were reaching," Lynch said. "Faith works two ways, for you and against you. We got behind and we didn't believe [we could catch up.] I can tell by the look on people's faces and I didn't see it."
Price took its biggest lead, 7-4, on two free throws by Schuyler McKay, but the Crusaders (28-6) followed with a 10-0 run and stretched their lead to 24-11 on a fastbreak layup by Michael Porter.
The Knights (24-8) cut the lead to nine late in the third quarter and came within six on Marcus Palmer's jump hook with 3:58 remaining, but Modesto Christian followed with a 12-0 run.
Modesto Christian's backcourt of Porter, Adrian Oliver and Joe Carter combined to score 46 points. Oliver led the way with 18 points and nine rebounds and Carter, who scored the Crusaders' first 12 points, finished with 15.
Price's Darren Morrison did not make a shot in the first half, but scored 16 of his game-high 20 points in the second half. McKay, Price's leading scorer, was held to eight points on three-for-11 shooting and committed a game-high seven turnovers.