Tustin High pulled off the biggest surprise of the Southern Regional State tournament finals Saturday, defeating Lakewood Artesia, 51-36, in the Division II title game at the Sports Arena.
Although the game figured to be close, top-seeded Artesia was expected to win and have a chance at defending its State title.
The Tillers trailed, 15-8, early in the second quarter before turning the game around. They tied the score, 21-21, at halftime and dominated the second half.
Artesia shot just 30% from the floor in the second half, while being outscored, 30-15.
"We lost to a better team tonight," Artesia Coach Wayne Merino said. "Our kids are young and they lost their poise a little bit."
Tustin (29-4) advances to the State tournament championship game for the first time. It will play San Ramon (29-2) at 3 p.m. next Saturday at the Oakland Coliseum. San Ramon defeated Sacramento Jesuit, 65-51, in the Northern Regional final Saturday.
Guard David Beilstein led Tustin with a game-high 18 points. He had three three-pointers. Forward Jentry Moore added 10 points for Tustin, and 6-7 center Brian Reider had four blocked shots.
Avondre Jones led Arestia (28-3) with 11 points and four blocked shots. The 36 points were the Pioneeers' lowest output of the season.