Mount Miguel missed its opportunity on free throws. Morse's Chris Prather did not.
Prather made 3 of 4 free throws in the last 38 seconds as Morse held off Mount Miguel, 58-54, in a San Diego Section 3-A boys' basketball game at Serra High School.
"I wanted to help out the team because I didn't play that well when I came in," Prather said.
Prather helped lead Morse to the final at 8:30 p.m. Saturday in the San Diego Sports Arena against Monte Vista, also of the Grossmont League.
"Tough," said Morse Coach Ron Davis, shaking his head. "I think what bothered us most was their half-court pressure. That was the first time we faced that. I thought Mount Miguel played a hell of a game."
Mount Miguel, co-champions of the Grossmont League, stayed close the entire game but never led. Both teams played a ragged first quarter, with Morse taking a 16-10 lead. After Mount Miguel cut the lead to 16-12, top-ranked Morse (23-2) outscored the Matadors, 8-2, for a 24-14 lead and looked as if it would run away from the unranked Matadors (17-9).
But Mount Miguel countered with a 7-2 run to make the score 25-21. Morse led, 33-27, at the half.
Mount Miguel opened the third quarter with six unanswered points to tie the game at 33-33 but could never pull ahead. In the end, Mount Miguel could not hit its free throws, making just 4 of its last 13. Mount Miguel's half-court press kept it in the game.
With 4:01 remaining, Haywood Mathis scored underneath and was fouled. His free throw cut Morse's lead to 49-48. But the Tigers scored six straight points and led, 55-48, with 2:05 remaining. In that stretch, Mount Miguel committed three turnovers and missed the front end of a one-and-one.
The Matadors rallied in the final two minutes on baskets by Mike Flores and Mathis and two free throws by Mathis that cut Morse's lead to 55-54 with 56 seconds remaining. Then Prather hit his free throws.
Mathis led all scorers with 21 points. Chris Penman added 10 for Mount Miguel. Willie Russell and Guy Henry led Morse with 15 points apiece.
Vista 64, Santana 34--After struggling through the first period, Vista, behind a rarely used man-to-man full-court press, dominated Santana to advance to the 3-A San Diego Section final against three-time section champion Point Loma in the Sports Arena Saturday.
Santana finishes 20-5.
Vista, which led in the first three minutes, trailed, 14-13, after the first period.
The Panthers woke up in the second period, opening a 25-14 lead with four minutes to play in the half. Chris Enger, who had 10 points in the quarter, scored six straight points to open the second period.