It had been so easy the first time around--on the road at Valencia--that Brea Olinda boys’ basketball Coach Gene Lloyd had a funny feeling in his stomach when he took the floor at home Wednesday night for the Orange League rematch with the Tigers.
A victory meant not only a third consecutive league title, but a school record-tying 16th consecutive victory.
Lloyd couldn’t relax until junior point guard Chris McMillian sank the last two of his eight fourth-quarter free throws with eight seconds left to help the sixth-ranked Wildcats escape with a 61-57 victory.
McMillian made eight free throws in the final 1 minute 45 seconds. He finished with 23 points. Brea made only 16 of 25 free throws.
“We could not contain him,” Valencia Coach Dean Yoshimura said of McMillian. “Those free throws just killed us. We wanted to foul someone else but they just put the ball in his hands.”
It had not been a pretty sight for Valencia (17-8, 7-2) three weeks ago, when Brea (22-3, 9-0) rolled to an 84-56 victory and Lloyd expected more this time around.
The Tigers led, 26-21, after two free throws from Michael Johnson with 1:27 left before halftime.
But five points by the Wildcats, including a three-pointer by Sean Wink before the buzzer, tied the score at the half, 28-28.
Brea built a 43-38 lead midway through the third period, but Valencia battled back for a 45-43 lead with 1:20 left.
But the Tigers couldn’t hold it. A free throw by McMillian just before the quarter ended gave Brea a 46-45 lead. The Wildcats never trailed again.
Wink had 18 points and Robert Smith led Valencia with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Jason Skrifvars scored seven points and had 12 rebounds for Brea.