HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS : Serra's Parker Misses; Verbum Dei Wins


Need a definition of basketball pressure?

Try a championship game, score tied, one free throw remaining and no time on the clock.

Gardena Serra High guard Gene Parker missed such a free throw against Verbum Dei Friday night, sending the Southern Section boys' Division IV-A championship into overtime.

Verbum Dei, the defending champion, took advantage of the reprieve to defeat Serra, 87-81, before 3,257 at the UC Irvine Bren Center.

"I can't tell you how I felt at the time (of the free throw) because I was numb," Verbum Dei Coach Mike Kearney said. "You have to feel bad for the kid who missed it."

Parker, who made the first free throw to tie the score at 76, said the pressure didn't affect him.

"The first shot was the tough one," he said. "I felt confident on the second shot, but the ball slipped out of my hand and went off to the right."

Verbum Dei led, 81-76, with 1:01 remaining in overtime after a basket by Andre Smith. A rebound basket and free throw by Mike Daniels brought Serra (17-11) within 81-79 with 48 seconds remaining.

The Eagles then missed the front end of three consecutive one-and-one free throws, but the Cavaliers couldn't capitalize.

Verbum Dei's Hasani Acklin finally made four free throws in the final 23 seconds, giving his team the victory.

"That was a scary feeling, watching (Parker) shoot those free throws," said Verbum Dei center Andre Larry, who led all players with 21 points and 15 rebounds. "Everything was out of our control."

Smith scored 19 points, and Acklin added 16 for the Eagles.

Milton Palacio led Serra with 20 points. Leonard Butler had 18 points and 10 rebounds. Parker added 14 points.

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