LA CRESCENTA — Overcoming a double-digit lead once was one thing. Doing it a second time wasn't meant to be for the members of the St. Francis High basketball team Tuesday afternoon.
St. Francis nearly overcame a double-digit margin in the fourth quarter, but instead fell short, 71-67, in a pool-play game in the Falcon Classic at Crescenta Valley High.
"They are a feisty bunch that doesn't quit," said St. Francis co-Coach Ray O'Brien, whose team overcame a 10-point lead late in the third quarter on Monday in a 61-60 pool-play win against Simi Valley. "It's tough when you have to do that, but they are learning to compete.
"I think we were a little more gassed [Tuesday] than Monday."
St. Francis (2-1) led only once against Chatsworth (5-1). The Golden Knights, who yielded the game's first 12 points, grabbed a 39-38 lead on a jump shot by junior guard Zack Gardea with 6:59 left in the third quarter.
The Chancellors owned a 57-45 advantage entering the fourth quarter. In fact, Chatsworth held a 67-57 lead with 40 seconds left when Gardea (game-high 23 points) made a three-pointer to cut it to 67-60.
Emerson Castaneda then connected on a three-pointer on the Golden Knights' ensuing possession to make it 67-63 with 19 seconds left.
Chatsworth saw Gardea register a steal and turn it into a basket to further cut the deficit to 67-65 with 15.1 seconds remaining.
However, a pair of free throws by Chatsworth's Derrick Hector and Terrell Funches, who finished with 22 points, in the closing seconds sealed the victory.
Gardea said the Golden Knights need to avoid falling behind quickly.
"It's never good to be trailing by double-digits just like that," said Gardea, who contributed seven rebounds and four assists. "We had [seven first-quarter turnovers] and they had good pressure going against us.
"We got flustered early, then we calmed down and started rolling. They play a fast-paced game and we had to try to slow it down to make a comeback."
St. Francis received 13 points from Castaneda, 10 from senior guard Greg Stratz and nine from senior guard Sevan Zarifian.
Chatsworth got 16 points from forward Jessie Hernandez and 14 points, eight assists and three steals from Hector.