SACRAMENTO — To understand how outsized and outmanned Palo Alto upset Santa Ana Mater Dei, 51-47, in the state Division II boys' basketball championship game Friday night at Arco Arena, just examine what happened at the beginning and end.
On the opening jump ball, 6-foot-1 Kheaton Scott of Palo Alto outleaped 7-1 Alex Jacobson of Mater Dei. If that wasn't an omen of things to come, with 2:07 left and his team clinging to a two-point lead, Jeremy Lin of Palo Alto connected on a desperation 25-foot bank shot from the top of the key as the 35-second buzzer sounded.
"The bank shot broke our back," Mater Dei Coach Gary McKnight said.
With eight players on their roster 6-7 or taller, the Monarchs (33-3) were heavily favored to beat a Palo Alto team (32-1) whose only loss had been to Los Angeles Price, a Division V school. But Mater Dei launched too many errant outside shots in an arena it has struggled in, shooting 29% while committing 17 turnovers.
"It was an incredible defensive effort," Palo Alto Coach Peter Diepenbrock said.
Taylor King scored 23 points for Mater Dei but received little offensive support. Kamyron Brown added 10 points, and his aggressiveness in the second half driving to the basket got the Monarchs back into the game.
Mater Dei found itself behind, 30-21, at the outset of the third quarter. Brown and sophomore guard Blake Arnet, who contributed two critical baskets, rallied the Monarchs.
Mater Dei was down, 42-39, with 3:08 left when Jacobson was called for an offensive foul, his fifth of the night. Lin, who finished with 17 points, responded with a layup. King's three-pointer pulled Mater Dei to within 44-42. But with the 35-second clock about to elapse, Lin made his three-pointer that sealed Mater Dei's fate.
Last season, Mater Dei was upset in the Division II final by Oak Ridge El Dorado Hills, 60-44. This loss is far more perplexing because the Monarchs had played well over the last month.
"We had a lot of shots we should have scored on," said McKnight, whose teams have won five state championships in his 24 years as coach.
Palo Alto is a team that finds a way to succeed. "They just win," Diepenbrock said.