East County Sports

CIF Boys Basketball: Two Buzzer-beaters, yet only one wins

CIF-San Diego Section Championships


ECS staff report

EL .CAJON – There are two basic way to capture a tight basketball game as the clock winds down. You can become a hero and deliver the game-winning basket, or you can go brain-dead, blank out and make a dumb mistake which will be remembered at alumni gatherings for decades.

On Tuesday (Feb. 21), both situations occurred, translating into victories by East County ballclubs in the semifinals of the CIF-San Diego Section championships.

In Division V, Santana earned its first CIFSDS title game appearance since 1988 when former Sultan and current West Hills head coach Tim Barry led them to a 67-62 victory in the Division I championship contest over the Morse Tigers after nipping Valley Center, 55-53. Meanwhile, surprising Ramona was handed a gift pass to the Division III final following a major miscalculation by the San Diego campus of High Tech High, 53-52.

Both ballgames came to a conclusion on buzzer-beating layins. But only one turned into the game-winner.

Santana 55, Valley Center 53

VALLEY CENTER – Santana High senior Dainan Keokham grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on a put-back layin as time expired Tuesday (Feb. 21), sending the Sultans to the CIF-San Diego Section championship game in Division V by stunning second-seeded Valley Center, 55-53.

Santana (16-14 overall), which clinched a winning record with the victory, will meet Classical Academy of Escondido in Thursday’s section finale. The Caimans (16-9) advanced by downing cross-town rival Del Lago,  61-51.

The 6th-seeded Sultans, , which were major underdogs in their upset of Morse at the (then-named) San Diego Sports Arena some 35 years ago, will be a slight favorite over  the No 8 seeds in a 7:30 p.m. start Thursday at Otay Ranch High in the South Bay.

For Keokham, it’s been a long season serving as an under-sized forward on a height-challenged Santana ballclub which finished near the bottom of the Grossmont Valley League standings — which is precisely the point when section officials introduced the power-rating system for the playoffs,

So even though some might call it a “consolation” tournament, just to be too get off the deck and win a series of contests is not just meaningful, but something to be remembered should the Sultans compete a 4-game sweep to hang a championship banner in a gymnasium already aligned with more than a dozen CIF banners for the girls program.

Trailing by a point with secods remaining, the ball bounced wide, but Keokham grabbed the offensive carom. Knowing the final seconds were ticking away, he quickly launched the  put-back shot, which game officials quickly rulely the shot was clearly before the clock expired to disappoint a large gathering of home-court fans of the Jaguars.

Santana jumped to a 22-7 lead following the first quarter, but Valley Center stormed back to take the lead early in the second half, holding the advantage until the game’s fnnal minute. Santana then tied the game, the Jags missed a shot, with the Sultans holding the final possession.

Valley Center concludes it season with a 17-14 mark. The Jaguars finished second in the North County Valley League behind champion San Pasqual, which plays its Division IV semifinal tonight/Wednesday at El Capitan.

  • LOOK FOR UPDATES when statistics and additional game details are reported on Wednesday.

Ramona 53, SD-High Tech 52

LIBERTY STATION – In two years, High Tech High will celebrate it’s 25th anniversary. According to a Bing search, the school “boasts state-of-the-art technical facilities for project-based learning, internships for all students”

The foundation which operates the program has expanded into four campuses, including locations in Chula Vista, Clairemont and San Marcos.

However, as far as basketball smarts, well….

Just like Santana’s Keokham  (above), the Storm scored on a late lay-in.  However, High Tech trailed by three points at the time, giving Ramona a 54-53 triumph at the Womble Road gymnasium.

In truth, it wasn’t a bonehead shot. But as the old television commercial goes, “Sometime you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.”

Of course, the Storm player in question thought there was more than jst a few fleeting seconds remaining on the clock, so a score (without wasting time) and a quick timeout would give them a chance to rally and steal the victory.

Even if the ball was kicked out for a 3-point shot to forge an overtime, Ramona was defending the arc and welcomed the drive through the lane for the uncontested basket. Either way, the  buzzer would’ve sounded, sending the Dawgs to the championship game.

Both ballclubs stand with identical 21-9 records, but only the Bulldogs will move forward in the playoffs, meeting powerful Victory Christian of Chula Vista in the D-4 finale. The Knights (23-8) advanced by destroying Rancho Buena Vista, 82-45.

For Ramona, senior Dalton Norvell tallied a game-best 27 points. Limited to just seven points in the3 first half, he doubled his total by the end of the third quarter, added 12 for in the fourth, going 3-for-3 from the foul line in the closing moments.

Meanwhile, Chase Newman added 24 points, featuring 12 in the final stanza by going 5-for-5 from the foul line.

For High Tech, senior guard Noah Sadatmand tallied all of 14 points in the fourth.



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