Recent history shows that the Sunset League boys' basketball title comes down to the matchup of Edison High versus Los Alamitos.
Los Alamitos has laid claim to the last four league titles, but Edison shared the honor with the Griffins in the 2014-15 and 2016-17 seasons.
The Chargers had the opportunity to earn at least a share of the league crown on Wednesday night, and as fate would have it, it was once again the Griffins that stood in their way.
David Olcomendy made a go-ahead three-pointer with 51 seconds remaining, and visiting Los Alamitos spoiled senior night at Edison with a 52-49 win in the showdown.
For the second straight year, Los Alamitos handed Edison its first setback in league, each time coming late in the season. The first-place Chargers dropped to 7-1 in league, and they are a game ahead of Newport Harbor (6-2 in league). Los Alamitos is in third at 5-2.
"I thought David stepped up big for us in the end, getting those five points in the fourth quarter," Griffins coach Eddie Courtemarche said. "That shot was a big shot for a sophomore."
Three-pointers by Matt Palma and Aiden Garnett tied the game at different intervals in the fourth quarter for the Chargers, the second making it 49-49 with 1:59 remaining.
Edison will lament the ones that did not fall. Los Alamitos missed the front end of two one-and-one opportunities, offering the Chargers multiple chances to get a look and tie it in the final 30 seconds.
"Any high school kid, they're going to feel bad for a while," Chargers coach Rich Boyce said. "I told them, 'The sun is still going to come up tomorrow. We still control our own destiny.'
"We're going to take it easy the next day or so, and we'll come back next week. We've got two big ones next week. Win either one of those, we're league champs. Win both, we're by ourselves."
Edison (19-6 overall) has road games against Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach to close the season.
Los Alamitos (9-14) and Newport Harbor (19-6) remain alive in the league title hunt, although neither has a game left against Edison. The Griffins have three games remaining.
Edison earned a close win at Newport Harbor to establish a two-game lead for first place in league on Monday. Outside of that, the Chargers had cruised through league, winning their first seven such contests by an average of 13.1 points.
On Wednesday, the Chargers established the early edge with offensive-rebound baskets by Josh Phillips and Garnett. Edison led 8-2 following a reverse layup by David Atencio at the 3:31 mark of the first quarter.
Los Alamitos answered in a big way. Senior center Jacob Eyman found the range on his hook shot, at one point converting on five consecutive shots. He finished with a game-high 19 points, adding 10 rebounds and three blocked shots.
Garnett drilled a trio of three-pointers and led Edison with 13 points. Atencio added 12 points and six rebounds.
Phillips made it tough for the Griffins to go inside. He blocked five shots, adding six points and 12 rebounds.
"[Phillips has] been playing really well in league, and Jacob is a special player," Boyce said. "It is kind of fun. You may look back a year from now and go, 'Hey, these guys are two college guys that were out here battling each other.'"
The Griffins led 30-21 at halftime. Edison narrowed its deficit to 42-39 after the third quarter.
In seven prior seasons, Courtemarche has never finished a season below .500. Los Alamitos will not meet that standard in the regular season this winter, but the Griffins have righted the ship in league.
"It was a bumpy start, not something we expected this year, but we all came together midseason," Eyman said. "We were like, 'This is our season, and we're not going down without fight.'"
Los Alamitos 52, Edison 49
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Los Alamitos 15 – 15 – 12 – 10 — 52
Edison 13 – 8 – 18 – 10 — 49
LA – Eyman 19, Trinidad 13, Olcomendy 8, Henriksen 5, Kent 4, Ruiz 2, Monson 1.
3-pt. goals – Olcomendy 2, Henriksen 1, Trinidad 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.
E – Garnett 13, Atencio 12, Headington 8, Phillips 6, Palma 5, Serven 5.
3-pt. goals – Garnett 3, Atencio 2, Palma 1, Serven 1.
Fouled out – Serven.
Technicals – None.