Jeremiah Turner didn't score in the second half of Sylmar's 53-48 victory over Birmingham on Saturday, but a good argument could be made that the 6-foot-6 junior was the most indispensable player on the floor for the Spartans.
Like he has since he returned from a broken hand 10 games ago, Turner did not start the City Section 3-A Division final.
But he came off the bench three minutes into the game and provided a lift.
He scored five consecutive points to pull Sylmar even, 8-8, early in the second quarter, and his value became obvious later in the game.
Turner started the second half but was benched with five minutes left in the third quarter after picking up his third foul.
Without Turner, the Braves used a run to take a 10-point lead and still led by six when Turner returned to start the fourth quarter.
Turner's impact was infectious.
The Spartans had a 36-14 rebounding advantage when Turner, who finished with eight rebounds, was in the game. When he was on the bench, Birmingham had the advantage, 8-6.
Dallas Townsend had good reason to be nervous when he stepped to the free-throw line with 11 seconds left and his Sylmar team leading, 51-48.
The Spartans had made nine of 20 free throws and needed Townsend make at least one to seal the victory.
"I was thinking about it a lot," Townsend said. "This had to be our worst game from the line."
Townsend calmly made both shots.
Depth was a big reason Sylmar played well in the fourth quarter. Turner and Townsend both came off the bench for the Spartans, while no reserves scored for Birmingham.
"We play 10-deep most of the time," Sylmar Coach Bort Escoto said.
The award for most innovative entrance by a player goes to Birmingham guard Jerome Riley.
When the senior guard was introduced with the rest of the starters before the game, Riley did a cartwheel through a cordon of cheerleaders.