Just because Brawley finished on top hardly meant it dominated the game. The Wildcats held a slim 10-7 lead after one quarter, but pushed their advantage to 21-10 midway through the second. It was the quick start that seemed the key to victory.
"We just wanted to play," Overton said of his team's quick start. "We've been sitting around looking at each other during the week off. When they got the opportunity to play, they went to work."
The Wildcats held a 29-21 lead at the half-time break. It was a lead that was short-lived in the third quarter.
USDHS, which resembled a junior varsity team for most of the first half, turned it on to start the third frame.
Paul Cervantes and Enrico Tucker (22 points) led the Dons out of the gate and with two minutes to play in the quarter, USDHS led 39-38. The teams traded baskets until the third quarter closed with the game tied at 44-44.
Rivera, Lofton and Carlos Corral (13 points) turned the tide for Brawley. The Wildcats opened the fourth quarter with seven unanswered points and outscored the Dons 14-2 over the period's first four minutes. The push was too much for USDHS and Brawley went on to grab the win.
"We haven't seen any of the other teams play," Overton said of his team's chances in the rest of the tournament. "We want to play good teams so the kids can get the experience."
The Wildcats good fortune did not carry over to the Central Spartans. Central had the unenviable task of facing one of San Diego's top teams in Torrey Pines.
Having to deal with a top team is one thing, but dealing with a lineup that included a 6-foot-11-inch center and two 6-foot-9-inch forwards was more than the Spartans could handle. Central fell behind 38-16 at the half and despite a strong run to start the third quarter, could not get back in the game.
"We did a decent job," said Spartan coach Kevin McFadden. "Our intensity was there. We gave up too many second shots. We have to find a way to box out. We're not the tallest team and we've got to make up for that."
Dustin Loop and Javier Guerrero had two points each and Luis Robles added four as Central opened the third quarter with an 8-4 run to pull to 42-24.
That was as close as Central (0-6) would get. Torrey Pines outscored the Spartans 38-16 to close the game.
Anthony Sabal led Central with eight points, Angel Fernandez had seven and Vincent McSee and Luis Robles added six.
"We're progressing. We're making strides," added McFadden. "We're playing the toughest competition we can find. We're doing a decent job of competing. If we keep competing we can win."
There was no good luck for Calexico either.
Adrian Maldonado had 13 points to pace the Bulldogs (2-2), who trailed 29-16 at the half.
"We're playing well in episodes," said Calexico coach Ernesto Valenzuela. "We got off to really good start, then they stepped up the defense and we had too many turnovers."
All three teams return to action in the tournament today. Brawley will take on Mira Mesa at 3 at Mira Mesa High. Calexico will play Mission Bay at 3 at Mission Bay High. Central will face the loser of the Valley Center/La Jolla game at 4:45 at Serra High School.