Forget the hair.
In the past, the comparison made between Madison boys’ basketball player J.J. Cole and teammate Robby Robinson might have just been in terms of hair. They both wear it long and stringy. Stuff that blows on the fast break.
Cole’s jump shot and general coolness in the final minutes of Madison’s 58-55 victory over Point Loma (17-11) in the Division II semifinal playoff game at Serra High Tuesday night could change that. Madison backers who will follow their team to the Sports Arena for Saturday’s final with Torrey Pines are now probably a little less uneasy about Robinson’s departure at the end of this season. Cole is a junior.
It wasn’t that Cole’s numbers were spectacular. Seven points, pale next to Robinson’s team-leading 19. But Cole picked his spots well. His two jump shots in the final 3 minutes kept Madison (17-12) close during a Point Loma hot streak midway through the fourth quarter.
“I had it open a lot, and I didn’t take it,” Cole said.
When he finally did, the shots were perfect. Cole also hit a free throw with 13 seconds left to give Madison a three-point lead and force Point Loma to attempt a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer.
Madison, which lost to Point Loma twice during the regular season, played with intensity throughout, bothering the Pointers with a full-court press and tight defense. But in the end, talk hurt the Pointers more than actions.
With 1:33 remaining, Point Loma’s Marcel Brown was whistled for a foul while attempting to pull down a rebound. He voiced his displeasure and was assessed a technical. Madison’s Kirk Cummin made two free throws, tying the score at 55.
Madison got the ball back and took the lead on Brad Eaddy’s six-footer with 58 seconds remaining and subsequently took the game away from the Pointers.
The technical was questionable to Point Loma Coach David Aros.
“You don’t call a technical in the fourth quarter with 2 minutes to go,” Aros said. “The call was unwarranted. The referees have to understand that we have kids who are excited on the court.”
Brown’s objection, Aros said, was something to the effect of: “That was a (not-so-terrific) call.”
Brown said it in the middle of the court, away from both referees but loud enough to be heard from a substantial distance.
Aros didn’t put the blame on Brown.
“I told (the team) ‘All of you have said worse things to a referee. I’ve said worse things to a referee. That’s not the reason we lost the ballgame.’ We didn’t play nearly as well as I think we are capable of playing.”
Jimmy Griffin, usually a big factor in Point Loma’s offense, was quiet until the fourth quarter, when he scored eight of his 12 points. Madison stole three Point Loma passes in the first quarter, all resulting in layups.
Point Loma held a 47-45 lead at the end of the third quarter, but Madison players continued to be a step quicker on both ends of the court. And a notch more intense. It showed on their faces.
“They came out cocky, you could tell,” Robinson said. “They were just going through the motions. I think we wanted it more.”