East County Sports

Season ends for playoff teams; Lions win first-ever


EastCountySports.com staff report

EL CAJON – The Granite Hills Eagles picked up the home court advantage just hours prior to their San Diego CIF Division III first round matchup against the San Diego Cavers on Wednesday.

But the venue switch, following the discovery of a leaky roof earlier in the afternoon at the Cavers’ famed gym, wasn’t enough as the Eagles dropped a 72-44 decision to the No. 4 seed.

Despite the loss, Granite’s stars were grateful for a final opportunity to play at home.

“The location switch on such short notice threw us a little bit off but the chance to play at home one last time was very special,” Granite Hills’ HUNTER PIKE said. “We had an awful shooting night and our opponents fed off the lack of our offensive production and took over the game.”

San Diego jumped out to a 12-2 lead with just over two minutes left in the first quarter.

The Eagles played some terrific ball to get back into the game by mid-second quarter to trail just 24-23.

“I tried to bring some confidence back when we were down,” Pike said. “It sucks that our season is over but it was still really fun and that’s all that really matters at the end of the day.”

However, the Cavers went on a 9-0 spurt to end the first half. San Diego then opened the second half with a 7-0 start.

San Diego led by 21 nearly three minutes into the second half and by 28 after three.

Granite Hills rebounded by a 2-9 start to finish with 11 wins.

“The season didn’t start out how I would’ve imagined it would have but with the mentors I had, I was able to bounce back the second half of the season and play to my true form,” said the Eagles’ MCKAY ROBERTS. “I need to get more consistent with everything and I need to get stronger so I can finish through contact.

“It was a fun run with my guys and I would ride with them any season. I learned a lot this season about myself and my teammates and I can’t wait to compete for a ring next season.”

SWEETWATER 61, SANTANA 32 – The top-seeded hosts eliminated the Sultans after leading 49-29 through three quarters in a Division III first-round matchup.

CALEXICO 64, EL CAJON VALLEY 44 – The Bulldogs led 14-8 after one but enjoyed a 35-23 second-half advantage to pull away from the visiting Braves in a Division IV first round contest.

RANCHO BUENA VISTA 61, GROSSMONT 29 – Grossmont trailed 15-7 at the end of one quarter in its Division I first-round game in the North County.

The Longhorns extended the lead to 32-14 by halftime.

Liberty Charter on Wednesday night.

LIBERTY CHARTER 56, ROCK ACADEMY 31 – The Lions earned their first-ever playoff victory in the program’s nine-year existence.

Senior JAVIEN LANKFORD took his turn among the team’s single-game scoring leaders, getting 16 points against The Rock.

Junior JAMES ZUNIGA added 14 points for Liberty Charter, while sophomore JONAH BELPREZ finished with 10 points.

Liberty Charter, the seventh-seed, will travel to face second-seeded High Tech North County at the Palomar YMCA in Escondido on Saturday.

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