East County Sports

Norwood, Matadors on point in semis

Mount Miguel's DARIAN NORWOOD looks for room against Point Loma Tuesday night. / EastCountySports photo





By Ramon Scott



POINT LOMA – DARIAN NORWOOD and the Mount Miguel Matadors weren’t about to let their season come to an end.

After trailing by 12 points just moments into the second quarter, Norwood, the Matadors’ senior leader, helped Mount Miguel poke, prod, disrupt and frankly frustrate the Point Loma Pointers the rest of the way in a 64-57 San Diego CIF Division 3 semifinal victory.

Mount Miguel’s MARQUISE EDWARDS (left) and JAMES ALLEN harass Point Loma’s Kyle Johnson during the CIF Division 3 semifinals. / EastCountySports photo

The ninth-seeded Matadors (20-10) will face 10th-seeded Sage Creek (13-17), a school with its first-ever senior class, in the section championship game on Saturday at 11 a.m. at Jenny Craig Pavilion.

Norwood, a four-year varsity player, scored 25 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, as Mount Miguel bumrushed the Pointers at every opportunity, fighting for every rebound and loose ball on both ends and steadily scurried past the stunned hosts.

“I got to hand it to my guys, they kept on fighting,” said Norwood, who also grabbed 11 rebounds. “We fought through it early, but I trusted my teammates and they trusted me. We knew we were going to get it.”

The Pointers looked polished early on, as the Matadors were left chasing down transition baskets after a couple of turnovers and Point Loma steals that resulted in some above-the-rim scoring that got the home crowd going.

Point Loma jumped out to an 8-1 lead, forcing an early time out, but senior RICKEY HARVEY countered for the Matadors with a three-pointer, followed up by an up-and-under scoop off the glass to bring it to within 12-8 in the first.

Mount Miguel star DARIAN NORWOOD drives to the basket during the second half Tuesday night. / EastCountySports photo

The Pointers opened the lead back up to 20-10 at the end of one and it would have been hard to share Norwood’s optimism after a Point Loma bucket just seconds into the second stanza.

The hosts were so full of themselves during the surge that one Pointer was assessed a technical foul for riding chest-to-chest with a Matador back down the floor.

The foul may have seemed innocuous at the time, but from that point, Mount Miguel’s fortunes seemed to change.

“We knew we had to go hard or go home,” said, Harvey, who had with 17 points. “We just chose to go hard. We knew it was going to be physical, we just brushed it aside.”

It was almost as if the Pointers were concerned about strutting their stuff, while Mount Miguel’s focus turned to just trying to get the basketball at all costs.

The Matadors closed the deficit to 32-27 at the half with a momentum run to end the second, capped by JAMES ALLEN’s last-second drive to the basket.

Sophomore MARQUIS EDWARDS, already a rapidly rising star, epitomized the Matadors’ energetic comeback effort.

His three-pointer got it to within 36-30 with 5:25 left in the third. Then his work on the boards kept plays alive.

“We knew we were in it only down by five at the half,” said Edwards, who finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds. “We have a lot of fight. We just kept calm.”

Then Harvey had a three-pointer to bring it to within 39-36 with 3:20 left in the third. Moments later, he canned another triple to tie the game at 41-all with :30 left in the period.

Early in the fourth, the momentum continued when Norwood gave the Matadors the lead with an inside basket following yet another scrap in which Mount Miguel came away with possession.

“We had to get stops in-a-row, then rebound and go,” Norwood said. “The physical play was to our benefit.”

After the Pointers tied the game, Edwards converted a basket-and-foul opportunity for a 46-43 lead.

“We did a good job keeping them off the glass, staying in front of them and playing good defense,” Edwards added.

Point Loma then got another technical foul and Norwood added a free throw for a four-point edge.

After Norwood made another tough-angle basket off the backboard, Point Loma’s Kyle Johnson tied the game with 4:15 left to play.

However, Edwards followed a Mount Miguel miss for a putback basket, then Norwood hit a high-arc three with 1:45 left and the Matadors were suddenly in command with a 57-50 lead, putting the Pointers in foul mode.

But Norwood recorded a steal on a late possession with a deflection, then his a pair of free throws with 46.6 left.

“That’s my four-year starter right there,” Mount Miguel coach JAY ROWLETT said of his star. “He’s paid his dues and earned the right to play for a championship.”

Johnson added a three-pointer with 23.2 seconds remaining, but Harvey and Edwards both canned a pair of freebies in the final 20 seconds of the game.

Now the Matadors will chase their third-ever CIF boys basketball title, having last won a section championship under coach Rowlett  in 2010 with star HARRY BRAZLETON, who famously hit two free throws with 0.2 seconds remaining in the game after being fouled on a buzzer-beater attempt from 25 feet away.

“This (2016-17) team is smaller, but quicker defensively than that squad,” Rowlett said.

Mount Miguel also won the CIF title in 1968, part of a squad that won 35-straight games over a two-season span under coach DICK RIDGWAY.


Mount Miguel:  Darian Norwood 25 [1 trey] (11 reb, 1 ast, 3 blk), Ricky Harvey 17 [3 treys] (4 reb, 3 stl), Marquise Edwards 16 [1 trey] (12 reb), Mikeece Dunbar 3 [1 trey] (3 reb, 2 stl), James Allen 3 [1 trey] (3 reb, 5 stl), Devon  Brown (2 reb), Marquis Neal (1 reb, 1 ast).



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