The Morse High School Tigers came into the game looking to muddy the waters, but as most expected, the cream rose to the top in Tuesday’s first-round playoff match at Bishop’s.
The Bishop’s Knights pulled away in the final minutes to seal a 43-34 win in a physical affair that saw the team score just four points in the third quarter.
Christian Rose recorded a game-high 13 points for Bishop’s, but Tuesday’s outcome was determined by anything other than scoring.
Through two-and-a-half minutes of the second half, nearly every possession ended with players from either team diving to the floor for a loose ball.
“It’s a playoff game,” proclaimed Conrad Douglas, who finished with nine points and iced the win with a pair of free throws late. “The energy is always going to be higher, but we knew we had to play a better game defensively when we saw our shots weren’t falling. So, we just went to battle. (Morse) is an excellent team, especially rebounding. We had to get physical to shut down their rebounding. Diving after loose balls is a huge part of that.
Both teams match each other’s physicality, playing to a 25-point draw through 24 minutes.
“Think it was 23 all and we called (timeout),” recalled head coach Nick Levine. “It was more about, ‘Let’s take a deep breath. We know what we want to do. They’re not gonna throw any curve balls. Let’s settle ourselves down and get a good look.’”
The late-third quarter huddle had its intended effect. Bishop’s rallied to score 20 points in the game’s final nine minutes after scoring just 23 in the nearly three quarters prior.
The burst proved to be the difference.
Tonight (Feb. 23), the Knights will host the Titans of Eastlake at home. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
Eastlake finished third in the Mesa League with a 6-6 record and pulled off a 74-67 upset win at Steele Canyon Tuesday to advance to earn its matchup with Bishop’s.
Elsewhere in La Jolla Hoop:
- The La Jolla Vikings Boys team ended its season Tuesday night with a 73-67 loss at Mission Hills. The Vikings graduate seniors Charlie Gal, Qwinn Rawdin and Jacob Ohara. Junior guard Behzad Hashimi will return next year as the team’s presumed best player. He believes the program is trending in the right direction. “I think we’re gonna’ be a little bit more ready,” he said. “Last year, we won (a playoff game), this year we made it again. As a program, I think we’re ready for this (regular playoff appearances).” Hashimi averaged more than 10 points and 3 assists for La Jolla in his junior year.
- In a tough draw, La Jolla Country Day will host heavy-hitter Torrey Pines tonight (Feb. 23 at 7 p.m.) in the opening round of its postseason. Torrey Pines went undefeated in Avocado League play and has lost just two games all season.