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High School Basketball : La Jolla’s Berteaux Puts Final Touch on Victory

The grace of Ray McDavid’s jump shot is enough to make opposing coaches shudder a little, particularly when the game is close and minutes are few.

McDavid, Clairemont’s leading scorer and arguably the City Western League’s top boys’ basketball player, did his best to make use of that shot Friday night with less than 2 minutes remaining and host Clairemont trailing La Jolla by 8.

But when the final hand was played, it was the less-spectacular but ever-consistent free throws of La Jolla guard Davey Berteaux that decided the game, not two 3-point bombs by McDavid. So La Jolla remained atop the league with a 59-53 victory.

“You’re never safe with (McDavid) out there,” La Jolla Coach Rick Eveleth said. “He is an outstanding offensive player.”

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And Berteaux is an outstanding free throw shooter. That’s why the ball is usually in his hands late in the game. Berteaux, who finished as La Jolla’s leading scorer with 19 points, made 10 of 11 free throws, 4 of 5 in the final 38 seconds, to preserve the victory.

Berteaux did falter once with 15 seconds remaining, but Rick Cavanaugh was right there to pick up the pieces, pulling down an offensive rebound amid a clutter of Clairemont players and working the ball back out to the perimeter.

“He was very intelligent and brought the ball out so we could kill more time,” Eveleth said. “Most kids want to put that ball back up.”

Because he didn’t, Berteaux got another chance. This time, with 9 seconds remaining, he nailed two free throws to end Clairemont’s hopes.

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Equally important was some nifty inside work by La Jolla center Kyle Kupiec midway through the fourth period.

Minutes earlier, Clairemont (9-11, 1-2) had taken its first and only lead at 42-41 on a turnaround by E.J. Pele. Then, after La Jolla (11-5, 3-0) regained the lead on a pair of free throws by Adam Kleid and a layup by Erick Litch, Kupiec hit two sky hooks in a minute to help stretch the advantage to 53-44.

McDavid led all scorers with 22, 18 coming in the second half. La Jolla’s cautious zone defense frustrated Clairemont a bit, and McDavid wasn’t really in sync until the final minutes. But Clairemont Coach Greg Lee didn’t fault his star shooter. The supporting cast, he said, didn’t make its presence known.

“This was a case where he didn’t have much help,” Lee said.

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