Big-time blocks (there were 14). Big-time dunks. Big-time defensive stops.
It was that kind of memorable high school basketball game Saturday night at Pasadena City College, where perhaps the top two teams in the state, Chatsworth Sierra Canyon and Temecula Rancho Christian, went back and forth trying to gain the No. 1 seed for the Southern Section Open Division playoffs.
In the end, Rancho Christian went on a late 10-0 surge to pull out a 61-58 victory, leaving the defending state champions stunned.
“We’ve been through a lot of tough situations and said, ‘It’s going to take heart right now,’” Rancho Christian coach Ray Barefield said.
Down 58-49, the Eagles (24-4) tightened up their defense and forced turnovers. A block by Evan Mobley set up a fastbreak that left Luke Turner open on the baseline.
“That’s my spot,” Turner said.
He made a three-pointer with 1:35 left for a 59-58 lead, completing the run.
Sierra Canyon (24-3) had a chance to tie the score at the end, but Scotty Pippen Jr. could not make his three-point attempt, and the Eagles launched a victory celebration.
“We locked in on defense and played together,” said Turner, a sophomore who made four three-pointers and finished with 15 points.
Junior guard Dominick Harris led Rancho Christian with 23 points.
If this game did anything, it showed the Eagles are more than just about the Mobley brothers, Isaiah and Evan. Isaiah scored 10 points and Evan six. Both had big baskets in the fourth quarter but continued to demonstrate they are team players first.
For Sierra Canyon, Pippen scored 22 points and KJ Martin added 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Terren Frank, a starter last season for the Trailblazers, played in his first game since Dec. 21 after injuring his knee and undergoing a surgical procedure. He scored five points.
As he gets into shape, Sierra Canyon should be even better.
The Southern Section finalized the eight teams in the Open Division playoffs: Sierra Canyon, Rancho Christian, Etiwanda, Corona Centennial, Moreno Valley Rancho Verde, Bellflower St. John Bosco, Santa Ana Mater Dei and Torrance Bishop Montgomery.
They will be separated into two four-team pools, with each team playing three times before the two finalists meet Feb. 23 at Cal Baptist in Riverside.
Seedings will be announced Sunday.