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Christian Earns Title With Win

TIMES STAFF WRITER

People forget, but Christian did not win the Harbor League last season.

Tony Clark and all his points, and all his moves, rebounds and blocks was only good enough for second.

Coronado was first.

That tends to get lost in the shuffle of Christian success stories, which include the San Diego Section Division V title and an appearance at the state final.

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A year later, a Tony less Christian team with a lot of grit captured the Harbor League championship Friday, clubbing visiting Clairemont, 72-56, and then huddling at mid-court and holding their index fingers high in the the air.

“I think people thought that when Tony graduated that was the end,” Christian Coach Randy Wright said. “We had to prove we were a good team with good players. Take a player like David Piester. He scored 40 points tonight. I don’t care who you’re playing, to go out and do that is impressive any time. He’s a good player.”

Good. Not as good as Tony Clark maybe, but good. Just like Christian. You don’t find this team doing anything spectacular, but it has a knack for putting the ball in the basket.

When Clairemont (5-3, 10-11) went to its zone defense Friday, Piester snuck underneath the basket like a kid playing hide-and-seek and positioned himself for a pass and a layup. What is this called? Stealing?

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In the final minute of the third quarter, for instance, Christian (19-5, 7-1) had the ball and was working it around the perimeter while Clairemont chased. Then in a blink, the ball was sent from guard Chad DeGrenier to Piester, who caught it under the basket and converted. Piester also finished with a game-high 12 rebounds.

DeGrenier scored a rather modest 13 points, but he was involved in nearly every phase of the victory. In the span of a few minutes late in the third quarter and early in the fourth, he calmed a young player who was upset with an official’s call, whipped a few passes in Piester’s direction, scored a layup and saved the ball from caroming out of bounds.

“He’s our most complete player,” Wright said. “We’ve been saying it all year.”

Clairemont stayed even until midway through the third. As usual, Alex Love led the way for the Chieftans, scoring 16 points in the second half en route to 24.

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The game was tied at 46 with less than two minutes to play in the third quarter when Christian began to leave Clairemont behind. By the end of the quarter, the Patriots led, 52-46, and by midway through the fourth they were up 64-50.

Missed free throws sunk Clairemont, which blew the front end of four one-and-ones in the fourth quarter. Only once in the final period did Coach Greg Lee have cause to smile. That was when Love went spinning toward the hoop and tossed in a no-look shot from a few feet with his back to bucket.

“Christian played a real good game,” Love said. “They didn’t give up. We gave up a little.”

From Lee’s standpoint, the outcome wasn’t a big surprise.

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“They’re a good team,” he said. “We’re an average team. If we had won the game and won the league title I’m still not going to put us in the hall of fame.”


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