San Pedro Coach Jack Kordich said before the game that if his Pirates could hang tough on the boards against the taller Fairfax Lions, they could keep it close or even win. They hung tough and kept it close, but finally fell to the Lions, 65-61, Friday night at the Sports Arena.
For their effort, the Lions take home the City 3-A boys' basketball championship.
After falling behind by 11 points at halftime, the Pirates were able to come back and take the lead with 5:40 left in the game.
With 6-7 Lion center Sean Higgins in foul trouble and on the bench, it looked like the Pirates might win.
"We were very lucky we were up by 11 at the half," Lion Coach Harvey Kitani said. "They missed a lot of shots or the game might have been a different story."
Pirate center Curt Jones helped spark the comeback, scoring 13 of his 21 points in the second half.
When it came down to it, the Lions proved the more disciplined team, especially in the half-court game. They handled the Pirates' press well in the second half and hit the crucial free-throws. The Pirates were 13 of 18 from the line while the Lions were 13 of 19.
Lion guard Jerome Jenkins hit two crucial free throws with 1:00 left to put the Lions ahead, 60-57, then hit two more with :31 left to put the game out of reach.
San Pedro's big effort was partially offset by the job the Lions did holding Pirate guard Otis Livingston to just 11 points.
"Guard Dwayne Canada did a great job on Otis," Kitani said. "In fact, our whole team did a great job on him because everybody contributed."
Kordich wasn't disappointed with his team's effort. "The only thing we didn't do right this season was win the championship," Kordich said.
The Pirates were only 3 of 17 in the second quarter. They were able to get back into the game but were unable to maintain their momentum.
The game was fairly even through the first quarter, until the Pirates started missing while Higgins was hitting everything. He was sharp in the first half, scoring 17 points, twelve in the second quarter, mostly from the outside. But Higgins was stopped cold in the second half and finished with 21 points.
Lion guard Jerome Jenkins was effective, with six assists and three steals.