There was a symbolic moment during the State Southern Regional Division III boys' basketball final, a scene emblematic of both the game and the theme that permeated the Pond of Anaheim Saturday afternoon.
San Diego University's 6-foot-8 Nate Walton, the son of Hall of Famer Bill Walton, was chasing North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake's 6-10 Jarron Collins, as the latter was putting the finishing touches on Harvard-Westlake's 58-47 overtime victory.
With Collins running and Walton limping to the ensuing dunk, Harvard-Westlake had the final say in one of the more interesting regional matchups.
This game was as much University versus Harvard-Westlake as it was a matchup of brothers: Harvard-Westlake's Collins twins--juniors Jarron and 6-11 Jason--versus University's Nate Walton, a senior, and 6-8 sophomore Luke Walton.
It was a meeting of two sets of brothers with very little in common on the court. While Jarron and Jason are full of potential, the Waltons have refined games tailored by hours of coaching.
"Their fundamentals are excellent," Jarron Collins said. "They handle the ball well and have good post moves."
And just as their games are different, so were the paths taken during their basketball careers. Nate and Luke have lived with the reputation of their famous father and an older brother, Adam, who plays at Louisiana State. The Collins twins came out of nowhere, their height coming from a 6-4 father, Paul, and a 6-0 mother, Portia.
Until Saturday, the pair of brothers did have one thing in common--they never led their teams to a state championship game.
"I know how much they wanted a state title," University Coach Jim Tomey said after the game. "They are devastated."
The game failed to be a Walton-Collins showcase, because Nate was limited by a severely sprained knee. He hurt it during Thursday's 33-point semifinal performance in a victory over Pasadena Muir. Late in that game, he came down with a rebound and landed on Luke's foot. Nate couldn't walk without crutches Friday, and his father, who did not attend the game because of his job as a television commentator, told him not to play.
But Nate waited until warmups and then made his decision.
"The adrenaline started flowing and I just figured I could at least go in there and make some good passes and give the guys an emotional lift," said Nate, the second oldest of Bill Walton's four sons.
Nate did not start and scored only nine points, well under his average of 21. Luke scored 10, but made four of 13 shots inside against the Collins twins.
Jason had 20 points, nine rebounds and eight blocked shots, with Jarron getting 19 points, 12 rebounds and one blocked shot. And they showed a little of the Walton game, with Jarron making 11 of 15 free throws, Jason six of eight.
Jason, who is about 20 pounds heavier than his brother and more able in the post, took control in overtime, scoring four points and blocking two shots to give Harvard-Westlake the lead for good.
After the game, the Collins twins were talking about a trip to Sacramento's Arco Arena next weekend and a possible state title. The Waltons, meanwhile, were reflecting on what was gone after Saturday's loss.
"It has meant so much to me to play with my brother," said Nate, who scored 1,300 on the Scholastic Assessment Test and will play at Princeton next fall. "It was what has made this year so special."
Said Luke: "I will miss [Nate] next year."