With a minute left in the third quarter Saturday, David Beilstein found himself lying face down on the court at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. At that moment, he decided he was going to lead Tustin to victory in the Southern California Regional Division II basketball final.
Beilstein had been placed there by DeAndre Austin, Artesia's 6-foot-3 senior guard. Beilstein had been setting a pick when he took a forearm in the mouth.
"I wanted the ball," Beilstein said. "'I was going to take it to the hoop no matter what, even if I fell on my face again."
Beilstein went looking for the ball and finally got it at the top of the key. He drove through the middle, dribbled behind his back and between his legs, then slipped under 6-11 Avondre Jones for a left-handed scoop shot. It gave Tustin a 10-point lead from which Artesia never recovered.
That play, as much as any, demonstrated the Tillers' determination. Tustin scrapped and scraped, got knocked down and got up and came away with a 51-36 victory.
At the center of the action was Beilstein, a 5-foot-11 senior guard and the Tillers' floor leader.
Beilstein held Tustin together when things got tough. He also was the guy who went for the jugular after getting knocked to the floor.
"There's two ways to play David: Be nice to him or push him around," Tustin forward Thomas Clayton said. "If you're nice to him, he plays calm and under control and probably beats you. If you push him around, he gets mad, and then you're really in a lot of trouble."
Beilstein was mad in the fourth quarter. He made back-to-back three-pointers to give Tustin a 43-29 lead . . . and Artesia was in a lot of trouble.
"I just felt that forearm was uncalled for," Beilstein said. "The best way I knew to get even was to beat them."
Beilstein had 18 points and five assists. Artesia as a team had five assists.
But, more important, Beilstein kept things from falling a part in the first half.
With 5 minutes 44 seconds left in the second quarter, Charles O'Bannon scored on a fast break to give Artesia a 15-8 lead. Things looked gloomy for Tustin, which was having trouble getting good shots.
"We definitely wanted the ball in David's hands at that point," Coach Tom McCluskey said. "The next shot was critical, and we look for David in those situations."
Beilstein didn't disappoint.
After a timeout, he calmly sank a 17-foot jumper to pull the Tillers to within five, 15-10. He had eight of the 10 points.
With 1:34 left in the half, Beilstein drove the baseline against Austin, leaned in and hit a 10-foot jumper to pull the Tillers to within two, 19-17.
Then, with time running out in the half, Beilstein drove through the middle, drew a crowd, and dropped off the ball to Brian Reider for a layup that tied the score, 21-21.
"David's always there when we need him," Reider said. "He either hits the three-pointer, or he penetrates the defense."
And other times, he just gets angry.
Said Clayton: "Personally, if it was me that was guarding David, I would be as nice to him as I could. I'd help him up, shake his hand and say please. You don't want him to get mad."