La Mirada defeats Mitty, 71-70 in double OT, for its first state title

Eric Sondheimer
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Fourteen three-pointers help La Mirada win its first state championship

La Mirada was a little bit in shock that it didn't win Saturday's Division II state championship game in regulation. What's a team to think when San Jose Mitty's Sebastian Much, a sophomore who transferred from San Juan Capistrano St. Margaret's, sinks a long-range three-point basket at the buzzer to send the game into overtime?

"That could have killed us," Coach Bryce Jones said.

The Matadores (31-5) persevered and pulled out a 71-70 victory in two overtimes at Haas Pavilion to win their first state basketball championship.

La Mirada's two big men, 6-feet-8 Kendall Lauderdale and 6-7 Dezmon Murphy, were magnificent. Each scored 18 points. Murphy made four of seven shots from three-point range. Lauderdale made three of eight three-point attempts. La Mirada made 14 threes.

"They did a good job taking away our driving lanes," Jones said. "The threes were there."

It still came down to the team's comedian, Kai Labasan, to deliver victory. He was fouled with 9.1 seconds left in the second overtime. He missed the first free throw, then made the second to break a tie.

"I just learned in an NBA commercial to have short-term memory," he said. "I don't even remember missing."

Mitty had a final shot but missed, and La Mirada began the victory celebration, aided by a large group of fans in the stands.

Mitty's 6-9 junior Ben Kone had 22 points and 14 rebounds.

"I have never played against someone like him," Lauderdale said.

Crespi wins Division IV

There were 7.9 seconds left. Encino Crespi had a two-point lead over Sacramento Capital Christian in the Division IV state championship game.

Capital Christian had the ball out of bounds. The Cougars thought they had the ideal athlete in Justice Shelton-Mosely, a standout receiver headed to Harvard. They got him the ball and off he went.

But Crespi's De'Anthony Melton, a 6-feet-4 junior with lots of athleticism, tracked him almost every step of the way, and when Shelton-Mosely finally reached the basket and tried to put a layup on the left side, Melton blocked the shot, grabbed it in midair and was fouled. Game over.

"We call him the closer for a reason," Coach Russell White said.

Melton made one of two free throws with two seconds left, and Capital Christian missed on a final shot, enabling Crespi to come away with a 47-44 victory and its first state championship in basketball.

"It's an amazing way to go out," senior guard Mike Krkeyan said. "We've made memories for the rest of our lives."

Melton scored 11 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter and finished with 13 rebounds.

Crespi (29-7) opened an 11-point halftime lead while making 60% of its shots. Then the Celts did what they often do — they go through spurts of suddenly going cold. Capital Christian (27-9) opened a four-point lead in the fourth quarter until Melton took charge.

Said Melton: "I heard he was fast, so I tried to take a great angle or turn him. But he was quick. He went straight to the basket. I tried to keep my body away from him because they were calling fouls the whole game, and when he shot it, I was going to go up and either block it or miss it. It turns out I blocked it."

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