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Hayward Outruns Santa Clara for State Title

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Santa Clara High, bidding for a record third consecutive boys’ California state title, ran into a brick wall called Hayward on Friday night at the Coliseum Arena, as the Farmers’ up-tempo, high-flying athleticism ran the Saints ragged, 62-45.

The decision gave Hayward (34-2) its first state title in the Division IV game in front of 5,587.

Santa Clara (28-5) could not keep up with a much quicker Hayward team that broke open a 27-21 halftime lead with a 23-6 third quarter. The Saints, who spent much of the third period watching Hayward’s Gerald Walker (14 points) and Laron Floyd (25 points) soar to the hoop on frequent fast breaks, were simply flogged by a better team.

“We played right into their hands,” Santa Clara Coach Lou Cvijanovich said. “We tried to play up-tempo with them and we got beat by an outstanding club.”

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Hayward’s attacking man-to-man defense held Santa Clara to a season-low field-goal percentage (27.9).

Only junior guard Art Barron and reserve Evan Swanger scored in double figures for Santa Clara. But Barron’s 13 points came on a modest five-of-18 shooting (two of 10 from three-point range). The Saints connected on just two of 16 three-point shots.

“That’s why they’re No. 1 in the state,” Santa Clara junior forward Stevie Amar said. “We tried hard from the beginning, but our shots just weren’t falling.”

They certainly weren’t. Santa Clara missed nine of its first 10 as Hayward took an 8-0 lead. But the Saints’ patience on offense enabled them to chip away at the lead, and when junior guard Chris Cole made a steal and a layup, Hayward’s lead had shriveled to 25-21 with 15 seconds left in the half.

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The third quarter, however, was disastrous for Santa Clara. Hayward began firmly rejecting Saint offerings to the basket, and running with the ball. A 14-4 spurt made it 41-25 with 2:23 left. Tournament officials then began engraving Hayward’s name on the 1991 state plaque.

But Cvijanovich pointed to those precious opening minutes as the turning point, Hayward’s third-quarter devastation notwithstanding.

“I think it was the first quarter that hurt us the most,” said Cvijanovich, who saw a 22-game playoff win streak end. “You don’t give a team like that an 18-8 lead and try to come back. No way.

“We got beat good and proper.”

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For Hayward, a school of 1,300 students that will move to Division III next year, Santa Clara looked no different than any other playoff opponent: The Farmers’ closest margin of victory in the playoffs was 16 points.

For Santa Clara, four starters will return to next year’s team, this loss no doubt providing inspiration.


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