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Mavericks advance to final with another close win; Foothills Christian eliminated in overtime

La Costa Canyon’s road to the MaxPreps Holiday Classic American Division championship game has been anything but comfortable. The Mavericks beat St. Joseph Notre Dame (Alameda) 57-55 in the semifinals Tuesday night on their home court – winning their three games in the tournament by a combined six points.

“We’ve been in this situation before,” said Mavericks center Dennis Kramer. “I thought we came through in the end and made some plays down the stretch.”

After La Costa Canyon led by seven at the end of the first quarter, both teams played very evenly in a back-and-forth game. For the first time in the tournament, the 6’10” Kramer played against someone his own size in the paint, St. Joseph Notre Dame 6’10” center Brendan Keane.

“It gets me going. I get tougher inside and keep going strong to the basket,” Kramer said. “I look at it more as an advantage.”

Both Kramer and Keane found themselves in foul trouble in the second half. The Pilots center picked up his fourth foul with 3:02 to play in the third quarter, while Kramer picked up his fourth with 6:02 to play. Both bigs saw limited action in crunch time as a result.

“It was very frustrating, but my replacement Erik Magnuson played good, so I wasn’t worried,” Kramer said.

With the Mavericks ahead by one with 1:30 left in the game, guard James McCann nailed a three-pointer from the wing that put La Costa Canyon up 57-53. A turnaround shot by Pilots guard Dominic Lippi at the buzzer fell short as the Mavericks held on for the win.

Four La Costa Canyon players finished in double figures, led by forward Matt Shrigley, who scored a game-high 14 points. Kramer’s matchup with Keane was a push, as both ended up with 12 points.

“I finally got a challenge inside,” Kramer said. “I’ve been playing a lot shorter guys over the last couple games.”

With the win, La Costa Canyon (12-0) plays Los Osos (Rancho Cucamonga) (10-2) in the American Division championship Wednesday at 5:05 p.m. at Torrey Pines. The Grizzlies advanced to the title game by beating Foothills Christian 81-77 in overtime in the first semifinal.

“I’m asking myself how we lost this game. I don’t know,” said Knights head coach Brad Leaf.

Foothills Christian led by as much as 19 in the second half before Los Osos mounted their comeback. The Grizzlies outscored the Knights 23-10 in the fourth quarter, and Foothills Christian guard Troy Leaf missed an off-balance shot at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.

Los Osos scored the first four points of the extra period and was able to hold off Foothills Christian. The Knights (12-2) lost despite 30 points from guard Troy Leaf and 27 from forward Jvonte Brooks.

Down the stretch, center Khalil Kelley paced Los Osos. Foothills Christian had no answer for Kelly who finished with a team-high 26 points.

“He destroyed us,” Brad Leaf said. ‘Jvonte had four fouls and he couldn’t do anything; he knows he has to stay on the floor. We tried to double him, but it didn’t work very well.”

Foothills Christian plays St. Joseph Notre Dame (9-3) in the American Division third place game at 5:30 p.m. at La Costa Canyon. The Knights’ only losses this season have come in the MaxPreps Holiday Classic.

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La Costa Canyon center Dennis Kramer throws down a dunk

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