Walter Mencken 3:39 p.m., June 18
Warriors earn split with Torreys, stay tied atop Coastal League
LA JOLLA – Army-Navy spent most of the fourth quarter trailing Coastal League rival La Jolla Country Day on Wednesday night, but never gave up. The ninth-ranked Warriors scored the last seven points of the game to erase a late deficit and prevail with a 53-50 win in a game that had league title and playoff implications.
“I am really proud of my team,” said Army-Navy senior forward Jhoan Camacho. “We worked together today and that was a nice way to win.”
Army-Navy (20-6, 7-2 Coastal) led 37-36 after three quarters, but La Jolla Country Day quickly seized momentum by scoring the first seven points of the fourth quarter. Torreys senior guard Nick Schlossberg capped the run with a three-pointer that put the hosts ahead by six with 6:09 left.
“We kept motivating each other,” Camacho said. “There was a lot of talking – talking on defense, talking on offense – and we listened to the coach. That was the most important thing.”
Army-Navy rallied to tied the game with four minutes left, but less than a minute later La Jolla Country Day (16-9, 5-4) was back in front after a technical foul on Warriors junior center Cheikh N’diaye. After senior forward Frank Bamford made two of four free throws, the Torreys had a 50-46 lead and the ball with 3:02 remaining.
“I said, ‘Hey Cheikh, you better control yourself. I want to win and we have to win,’” Camacho said. “We just kept going – we didn’t stop and think, ‘Oh this is a technical, we’re going to lose.’”
With 1:41 left, N’diaye was fouled and hit the first of two free throws to make it a 50-49 game. N’diaye missed the second free throw, but Army-Navy retained possession and promptly took a 51-50 lead on a Camacho turnaround jumper.
“Let me tell you, I didn’t know what I was doing,” Camacho said. “I wasn’t thinking that I was going to do it – I just wanted to make the best play possible.”
Once in front, Army-Navy got a defensive stop and some breathing room on the following possession. The Warriors moved the ball around and eventually threw it inside to N’diaye, who found Camacho in the lane for a layup that put the Warriors ahead 53-50 with 21 seconds left.
“Cheikh was getting double-teamed, I cut to the basket, and he gave me a pass. I just caught the pass, put it up straight and made it,” Camacho said. “I thought that’s it, we’re going to win this – I’m not going to let my guy make any points and we’re going to win.”
La Jolla Country Day missed three shots in the final 12 seconds, allowing Army-Navy to escape with a three-point comeback victory. The last shot – a three-point attempt by senior guard Kai Tuites – hit the rim as the buzzer sounded.
“I was just looking at the basket and thinking, ‘No, No,’” Camacho said.
Camacho scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half, finishing in double figures for Army-Navy along with Watson (17 points) and N’diaye (10 points). With one league game remaining, the Warriors are tied with Francis Parker atop the Coastal League and are in the running for the top seed in the Division IV playoffs.
“When we started working for the season, that was the most important thing – to get the league title, get the first position and not let anybody beat us,” Camacho said.
Junior guard Sage Burmeister led La Jolla Country Day with a game-high 18 points. The Torreys dropped their second game to a ranked opponent in as many nights after losing by five at top-ranked La Costa Canyon on Tuesday.
Army-Navy – 53 (13-10-14-16)
Watson 17, Camacho 17, N’diaye 10, Nowakowski 5, Diatta 4 (starters)
La Jolla Country Day – 50 (9-9-18-14)
Burmeister 18, Bamford 14, Schlossberg 10, Tuites 2, Brewster 0 (starters) Poland 4, Hayes 2
Pictured: La Jolla Country Day guard Kai Tuites drives against Army-Navy guard Devin Watson