Fulfilling a promise that he made to his Santana girls' basketball team, Coach Wade Vickery jumped off the high dive and into the school swimming pool while wearing street clothes Thursday during a school assembly.
About six hours later, Vickery's girls took their own plunge in a packed Santana gymnasium, losing, 75-66, to Grossmont 2-A League rival El Cajon Valley. Vickery promised to make the dive if the No. 9 Sultans (20-6, 7-1) captured the league title, which they did by winning Tuesday. One thing Vickery didn't count on: The rest of the student body was invited. Surprise.
Santana gave a piece of that championship to the Braves on Thursday. No surprise. No. 10 El Cajon is now 20-4, 7-1 and poised for a favorable Division II seeding in next week's section playoffs.
Santana trailed by 25 points with less than a minute left in the third quarter. Vickery, however, appeared cool and surprisingly refreshed on the bench. Holding a large Diet Pepsi in his left hand and waving flash cards at his players with his right, he engineered a fourth-quarter comeback that saw the Sultans cut the lead to eight with 2:27 left.
Santana, which beat El Cajon in overtime, 54-49, on Jan. 31, appeared to be sunk after it was outscored, 48-27, spanning the second and third periods. Most damaging was a 17-2 run by the Braves.
But Cathy Bass (18 points) made three of her six three-pointers and led the Sultans on a 21-4 run down the stretch. But a three-point shot by Autumn Friesner (14 points) brought Santana as close as it would come, 68-60, before the Braves' Heather Holm--who was double-teamed the whole game--made seven of eight free throws inside the final 3:23.
"I thought we played OK; El Cajon played very well," Vickery said. "We gambled on paying special attention to Heather Holm (31 points). She made some tough shots, then they set up Reco Edwards."
Edwards, one of only four El Cajon players to score, finished with 28 points (12 in the third quarter). Erin Pope had 16 for Santana and Amber Schuetzle 10 for the Braves.