Lucy D. Barker 6:13 p.m., May 23
Patriots rally late, take control in second overtime to edge Komets
EL CAJON – In a battle between Central League unbeatens on Friday night, four quarters couldn’t settle things between Kearny and Christian – and neither could an extra four minutes. In the second overtime, Christian jumped in front quickly and held on to capture a 64-61 thriller.
“It was just a hard-fought game all night and it came down to the wire,” said Christian senior guard Shane Dillon. “Every player on the court was playing hard.”
Defense set the tone early in the game, and Kearny (13-5, 3-1 Central) had an 18-11 lead at halftime. Christian (8-3, 3-0) couldn’t solve the Komets’ man-to-man defense and scored only four points in a cold second quarter.
“We knew they were going to play man-to-man because they have some athletes and some guys that can run,” Dillon said. “We knew that coming in but we actually took it for granted. We thought that they wouldn’t have as good a man-to-man defense as we did.”
Kearny led 29-25 headed into a wild fourth quarter in which the teams combined for 48 points. The Komets led by as much as eight early in the fourth quarter and Christian slowly fought its way back into the game, but the Patriots were unable to grab the lead.
With 17.4 seconds left, Kearny took a 49-45 lead on a pair of Richie Knight free throws. Christian needed a big shot on its next possession to have any chance, and Dillon delivered with a corner three-pointer to make it a one-point game with 8 seconds remaining.
“It was big time shot after big time shot [in the fourth quarter],” Dillon said.
Two more free throws put Kearny ahead 51-48, and Christian turned to Dillon for a potential game-tying shot on its final possession of regulation. Dillon missed but the rebound fell right to Patriots senior forward Jason Gaines, who put the ball in through contact for a three-point play with 0.6 seconds left that forced overtime.
“At the end of the game I was mostly rebounding and I wasn’t going to give up that rebound. I just grabbed it and put it up,” Gaines said.
In overtime, neither team could get going offensively in a four-minute period of attrition. Kearny had a chance to win the game in the final seconds of overtime, but senior guard Cameron Denton missed a corner three with 3 seconds left and Christian secured the rebound to send the game into double overtime tied 54-54.
“It was crazy,” Gaines said.
In double overtime, Christian took control from the opening tip. Dillon won the tip and slapped it to Gaines, who drove through the Kearny defense for a three-point play to make it 57-54.
“We lined up to tip and I saw Jason on his left and they only had one guy back,” Dillon said. “I looked at him, he looked at me and we knew if I got the tip I was going right to him. I got it and he hit it.”
Gaines scored the first five points of the second overtime, and with 1:16 left broke a 61-61 tie with another three-point play. Christian clung to that 64-61 lead for the rest of the game, escaping with the victory after Knight missed a potential game-tying three-pointer in the closing seconds of the second overtime.
“We knew all week long this was going to be a big-time game,” Dillon said. “We left it all out on the court.”
Gaines led Christian with a game-high 25 points, including eight in the second overtime period. Dillon added 19 points for the Patriots, who are tied with Point Loma (8-4, 3-0) atop the Central League.
“We can be very good this year,” Gaines said. “We’re in the running to go to CIF, and that’s our main goal – we’re pushing for that.”
Three Kearny players finished in double figures, led by Denton’s 19 points. The Komets had a six-game winning streak snapped.
Christian – 64 (7-4-14-26-3-10)
Gaines 25, Dillon 19, Larsen 8, Johnson 3, Sauls 0 (starters) George 9
Kearny – 61 (10-9-10-22-3-7)
Denton 19, Knight 14, Alaby 13, D. Moa 8, B. Moa 6 (starters) Nueca 1
Pictured: Christian guard Jake Larsen drives against Kearny guard Richie Knight