HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS : San Pasqual Does Its Cereal Number : Division II Boys: After Meek sparks a victory over El Camino for the title, the Eagles pass the cornflakes.
San Pasqual’s Eric Meek reached up and grabbed the box of cornflakes out of the air in much the same fashion that he grabs the basketball.
His coach, Tom Buck, fired a perfect pass. With a box of cereal. Not a basketball.
This happened minutes after San Pasqual’s 73-70 victory Saturday over top-ranked El Camino in the San Diego Sports Arena. The triumph gave the Eagles (19-7) the Division II boys’ basketball title.
Why cornflakes? Well, it seems Meek didn’t play in one of two earlier meetings with El Camino (24-5) this season. El Camino won by 13. And Wildcat forward Shaun Scurry was asked what it was like to play the Meek-less team. He responded: “Like cornflakes without the milk.”
The milk poured on Saturday. And poured it on, particularly in the fourth quarter. Feasting against a man-on-man defense for much of the second half, Meek scored 14 fourth-quarter points en route to a game-high 33.
Why the sudden burst?
“It’s kind of hard to explain,” Meek said. “Something just told me ‘You’ve got to do something now.’ ”
It might have had to do with his commitment to win this game and this title. Meek, who also grabbed 17 rebounds, didn’t plan to go home wearing a second-place frown.
“He told me (Friday) he was not going to let us lose,” Buck said. “And he didn’t.”
That isn’t to say it was simple. El Camino put up quite a struggle, trading leads with San Pasqual throughout the second half and leading by a point with less than two minutes to play.
In the end, the crucial points didn’t belong to Meek, but rather to guard David Prieto, who hit three three-pointers and finished with 13. His final two came from the free-throw line with 16 seconds to play. That gave San Pasqual a 71-67 lead and made Jeff Reeve’s late three-pointer off the glass virtually meaningless.
Believe it or not, Prieto says he wasn’t nervous. Not a bit.
“I couldn’t feel anything,” he said. “Just something I had to do.”
That, grouped with Meek’s effort, 13 points from Richard Stark and 12 from David Durst, gave San Pasqual its first section championship.
“I want to take a picture of the scoreboard,” Buck said. “What a great game.”
San Pasqual controlled the first half, though Scurry kept the Wildcats close using a short jumper and several shifty moves to score 10 of his team-high 19 points. Scurry also gave El Camino its first lead of the game, converting a 14-footer to make it 33-32 with 5:55 to play in the third. The lead changed hands nine more times in the game.
With El Camino down by three with two seconds to play, Scurry overthrew his teammates on an inbounds pass that traveled the length of the court and out of bounds. Coach Ray Johnson pointed to the spot where Scurry should have put the ball and squatted to watch his team’s title hopes melt with the final two ticks.
San Pasqual players celebrated by jumping around and thrusting their fists into the box of cornflakes and munching. The box was still making rounds by the time the team reached the locker room.
The loss cost Johnson a third section title, but he found consolation in looking ahead to the Southern California Regionals, in which his Wildcats and San Pasqual both will participate.
Asked if he regretted switching from zone to man defense, he said: “We were in a man in the third quarter. We did a heck of job. . . . We didn’t do anything different in the third than we did in the fourth.”
Problem was, Eric Meek did.