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Hornet boys come up short, lose 74-71

February 25, 2001|By ROBERT FULTON, Special to this newspaper

CALIPATRIA — In a game that went down to the wire, the Calipatria High School boys basketball lost a 74-71 heartbreaker to Marian Catholic on Saturday in the CIF San Diego Section Division V quarterfinals.

The contest was close throughout. After the first quarter each team had 16 points. At the half the squads both showed 35 on the scoreboard.

After three periods the contest was knotted at 56. The game then looked to be going the Hornets' way as they opened a 68-62 advantage with three and a half minutes to play off two Ezequiel Navarro foul shots.

"I told them we still had to run the offense," said Hornet head coach Robert Romero.

The Crusaders rallied back to take the lead at 70-69. Navarro sank two more foul shots, returning the lead to the Hornets, but they would never see it again.


Back-to-back Marian buckets gave the visitors a 74-71 lead. There was still time for Calipatria and with 30 seconds left, Calipatria's Eric Somers stole the ball and headed unfettered toward the Crusaders' basket, well ahead of his pursuers.

Instead of taking the easy bucket, Somers chose to let up and wait for his teammates to catch up and give his squad the chance for the tie with a three-pointer.

No shots connected and Marian ended up with the ball at the foul line.

Marian was unable to connect on either of the two foul shots and Calipatria had life with 16 seconds remaining. Navarro pushed the ball downcourt and passed it to Vontray Taylor. Taylor gave the ball back to Navarro, who had a good look but the shot did not find the net and time ran out, giving the Crusaders the win.

Fouls were a key part of the game. Calipatria was fine from the line, going 20 of 28 but, more important, 12-14 in the second half. Marian shot only 10 of 28.

One important factor for the Hornets was its star, Steve Garcia, suffered from foul trouble the entire night. Garcia scored 19 points but none during the crucial fourth period.

"We got into foul trouble really quick," Romero said. "We lost our best player. It's hard to play without him."

The game was tight throughout but that is not to say neither team made runs. Midway through the third period Marian pulled to a 51-43 lead, but Calipatria rallied to knot the game heading into the final quarter.

"Taylor coming in," Romero said of what kept his Hornets in the game. "He gave us a different look. He gave us another threat from outside. We picked up on defense."

In addition to Garcia, the Hornets were led by Navarro, who scored 15. Somers scored 12 points off four three-pointers.

The loss concludes the Calipatria season at 18-10 in a year that saw another Desert League title come its way.

"It was good," Romero said of the season. "We had only two returning seniors. I'm proud of the kids. They didn't give up."

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