Somewhere along the line, Simi Valley High's game against Warren on Tuesday night went from a basketball game to a near slugfest.
It might have been early in Simi Valley's 74-54 victory, when both teams shot poorly in the second-round Southern Section 4-A Division playoff game at Royal High. Frustration on both sides led to free-for-all rebounding episodes.
Or, it could have been in the third quarter, when the Pioneers finally pulled away from the pesky San Gabriel Valley League co-champions.
Or, it could have been when Warren forward Tony Rodriguez fouled out midway through the fourth quarter. Rodriguez, a junior, was the San Gabriel Valley League most valuable player. The 6-4 forward averaged 15 points a game for the Bears but was held to six.
No one could be certain of the precise moment, but it was apparent that the game had indeed gotten out of hand.
"They're the ones that started talking," said Simi Valley center Don MacLean, who had team highs with 22 points and 10 rebounds. "It was getting physical and emotions were running wild. But, what can you say? We got the W."
That's W for win, although it could have stood for wince.
Twenty-eight fouls were called--17 against the Bears--and that struck a cord with Warren Coach Jay Young, even though many of his team's fouls occurred late in the game and were intentional.
"You always hate to blame the officials, but they were all over us," said Young, who is in his 26th season as coach. "I think they just let it get out of control."
Finger-pointing and on-court conversations held no farther apart than nose to nose were the trend. It was Simi Valley, however, that was able to channel some of that energy into baskets.
After leading only 28-23 after a sloppy first half in which each team committed nine turnovers, the Pioneers inched to a 10-point lead, 35-25, with 5:45 left in the third quarter.
Simi Valley (24-3) led, 44-34, going into the fourth quarter, was outscored 7-2, then outscored Warren, 28-13, the rest of the way.
Pioneer point guard Butch Hawking, who had 19 points, scored eight in the final quarter. Teammate Shawn DeLaittre had 15 points and 8 rebounds. MacLean was 8 of 8 from the free-throw line in the final quarter.
Steve Carnes, the only sophomore on the Simi Valley roster during the regular season, scored 12 points, including a key three-point shot at the end of the third quarter.
In the locker room afterward, MacLean and DeLaittre looked every bit the byproducts of a physical contest. MacLean was icing his left ankle, which he sprained in Saturday's win over Hoover and reinjured in the third quarter Tuesday.
DeLaittre's left knee was wrapped. Neither practiced Monday.
Simi Valley plays the winner of tonight's Ventura-Nogales game at Ventura College in a quarterfinal game Friday.
Warren (15-11) was led by senior John Kirk's 23 points. No other Bear scored in double figures. Warren's backcourt of Jim Kim and John Miller combined for six points on 2-of-17 shooting. The Bears were 22 of 60 from the field.