Long Beach Millikan High School completed a fairy tale-like finish Saturday night, upsetting top-ranked Santa Ana Saddleback, 62-59, in overtime to win the Southern Section 5-AA boys’ basketball title before 6,326 in the Sports Arena.
The Rams, the Moore League’s second-place representative, capitalized on Saddleback turnovers in overtime to win their second Southern Section championship. Millikan last won in 1970.
“I told the kids after we knew that we wouldn’t win the league title, that there is more than league out there,” Millikan Coach Bill Odell said. “It shows their character on how they responded to the challenge.”
The Rams were led by 6-foot-4 center Demetrius Mayhand, a junior. He scored 15 points and had 10 rebounds, including four in the fourth quarter and overtime.
“I made it a goal going into the game to grab at least 10 boards,” Mayhand said. “The scoring just came because I kept active inside.”
Mayhand was effective in the first half on offense, but it was his defense against Saddleback’s 6-7 center Malru Dottin down the stretch that helped the Rams win.
“I said all along, that this team has a new star every game,” Odell said. “Tonight, Demetrius came through at the right time when we needed him the most.”
Millikan also received a fine performance from senior forward Jeep Jensen, who finished with 21 points. It was his running bank shot that gave the Rams their overtime lead.
Millikan led, 57-53, late in regulation, thanks to Jensen’s eight fourth-quarter points.
But Saddleback rallied to close within two on a drive by Dottin, who finished with a game-high 27 points and 15 rebounds.
The Roadrunners tied the game at the end of regulation on a jumper by senior guard Sean Simon, who finished with 11 points.
Saddleback led at the end of the first half, 32-26, behind Dottin’s inside play.
Dottin, who had 12 first-half points and eight rebounds, played a major role in containing Millikan’s leading scorer, Terry Hilliard, who had seven points.
The Rams (25-6) will advance into the state playoffs starting Tuesday.
The Roadrunners (27-2) will wait to see if they receive an at-large bid.
“I never thought we’d get this far,” Odell said.
Now Millikan has a chance to win a state title.