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Manual Arts Comes Charging Back to Win on Controversy

Times Staff Writer

Manual Arts High School won the Reebok State Division I boys’ basketball title Saturday night in a most peculiar way.

The team that lost in the City 4-A final, only to receive a surprising at-large bid to the State championships, where it beat a Crenshaw team it had lost to twice, came away a 54-53 winner over hometown Bishop O’Dowd at the Oakland Coliseum Arena on a controversial last-second shot that was disallowed.

“Have we had an easy one over the last week and a half?” Manual Arts Coach Reggie Morris asked afterward.

No, but this was something else.

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Manual Arts, down by eight points at halftime, charged back into the game by outscoring Bishop O’Dowd, 22-6, in the third quarter.

The run that put Bishop O’Dowd in the hole actually started 1:02 before halftime and didn’t end until 1:19 was left in the third quarter. The total damage on the Manual Arts blitz was 22-0 overall and 20-0 to start the second half.

The Toilers led by eight in the fourth, only to fall back into a tie.

O’Dowd, 0-3 in title games since the state playoff system was restructured in 1982, led, 53-52, when Manual Arts’ Chris Small went to the line for a one-and-one with 15 seconds to play. Small missed, but the Toilers got the ball back when Mike Dones traveled with the rebound.

It was then left to Wayne Williams to play hero for Manual Arts. His fallaway 8-footer from the right of the lane gave the Toilers the lead for good, 54-53.

The last gasp for Bishop O’Dowd is one Dragon fans will discuss for a long time. Taking the inbounds pass in the backcourt, Lou Richie raced toward the basket and put up a driving 5-footer in the lane that hit the back of the rim.

Dones went up, reached over, and the ball went in the basket as the clock tripped to :00.

As the O’Dowd players leaped in celebration, the referees raced toward midcourt and signaled basket interference by Dones. Northern California’s first chance at a win in the Division I final was gone. Stolen, they would say.

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“It’s bad when you get homered in your own facility,” Dragon Coach Mike Phelps said.

Several members of the O’Dowd team joined about two dozen fans in crowding behind Prime Ticket’s broadcast post, hoping for a replay. They got one, but the answer was still the same.

A tough call, with the replay somewhat inconclusive. And disappointment.

Manual Arts never showed much patience for a slowdown offense this season--it scored in the 60s only three times coming in--but that’s exactly what the Toilers got caught up in early. In other words, they fell into Bishop O’Dowd’s game plan.

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That and poor shot selection were the main reasons Manual Arts was behind at halftime, 24-16. Not exactly a sweet 16.

Even when the Toilers got good shots, they didn’t always convert. They didn’t always come close, either, like the two shots on consecutive trips down the court that didn’t draw iron from 2 feet out. In all, they were 8 of 32 in the first two quarters.

Baskets were coming minutes apart for both teams, which was fine with Bishop O’Dowd, a team known for being well-disciplined.

In the third quarter, baskets were coming minutes . . . and minutes . . . and minutes apart, which wasn’t so fine with Bishop O’Dowd. The Dragons didn’t score for the first 6:41 of the second half, by which time Manual Arts had gone ahead, 36-26.

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