Things appeared to be over for Brawley in the opening minutes of the second half. University City went on a 7-0 run to take a 31-23 lead just three minutes into the third quarter.
Mark Rivera led the Wildcats in storming back, hitting a three and adding another hoop as Brawley closed the third with a 14-6 run, resulting in a 37-37 tie after three.
The Wildcats managed to claim a small advantage midway through the fourth, with the largest lead being 46-43 with four minutes to play.
The Centurions, however, would not go away. They regained the advantage 47-46 when Elliot Pitcher stole an errant Brawley pass and found Blake Frazier for a breakaway dunk.
The Wildcats came back to take a 48-47 lead with just over a minute to play but it was the last time they would lead.
In the final minute of the game Brawley's Richard Santana and Carlos Corral both missed the front ends of one-and-ones that could have trimmed a one-point lead to nothing or possibly given the Wildcats the lead.
Brawley had one last chance to tie the game. Trailing 51-48 Lafayette Lofton launched a three-pointer that rimmed out. He did manage to put back in Corral's attempt to follow the shot, but the basket was only worth two and the Wildcats' season ended by one point.
"The other team was extremely athletic," Brawley coach Phil Grant said. "They did everything they had to do to be successful."
Santana led the Wildcats with 14 points. Lofton added 13 and Wheeler Morgan had nine. Michael Harris led University City with 14 points and Pitcher added 13.
Brawley finishes the year 15-9 and champion of the Imperial Valley League.
While not pleased with the result, Grant was complimentary of his team's effort.
"The seniors gave us great leadership and it was good to see them put everything they could into the game," he said. "The fans were really great. We had good community support. They kept us in the game."
La Jolla 73, Central 44
LA JOLLA — The Central Union High School boys basketball team was knocked from the playoffs by La Jolla 73-44 here Wednesday.
Vincent McSee led the Spartans with 19 points and seven rebounds. Jerrel Henderson added nine points.
Central finishes the season 7-18.