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Raiders deny Cougars outright league title in physical game

NESTOR – Two-time defending South Bay League champ Southwest isn’t quite ready to part with its crown. In an emotion-filled game on Tuesday night, the Raiders upended league-leading San Ysidro 53-49 to force a first place tie with one game left.

“We were focused on what we needed to do,” said Southwest head coach Steve Selland. “For us to have any chance to win a league title, we needed to get this first game. The fact that it was San Ysidro just adds to the excitement.”

Southwest (17-9, 8-3 South Bay) held San Ysidro to its second-lowest point total of the season thanks to a change in defensive strategy. Though the Raiders won the first league meeting between the two teams, they ditched their usual man-to-man defense to try and slow the athletic Cougars.

“I haven’t played anything but man-to-man for years, but tonight we decided to roll the dice,” Selland said. “Our defense worked magnificently. Not only were we disallowing them the penetration, but we were actually getting steals that led to easy baskets.”

After an even first quarter, Southwest went on a 13-0 run in the second quarter to take a 28-17 lead. The Raiders led by seven at halftime after a second quarter filled with San Ysidro turnovers.

“I think we surprised them a little bit with this defense,” Selland said.

San Ysidro (19-8, 8-3) relied on its own pressure defense to narrow Southwest’s lead to three points by the end of the third quarter. The Raiders scored the first four points of the fourth quarter and didn’t trail in a close, loosely-called period that produced play that at times looked more like rugby than basketball.

“It was an exciting game to watch,” Selland said. “It wasn’t pretty and it was ragged, which led to more emotion.”

Guard Pierre Davis led Southwest with a game-high 20 points, including two three-pointers. Marcus Gladden added 15 points for the Raiders, who were boosted throughout the game by an incredibly loud student section.

“I’m very proud of our home crowd. This isn’t just a victory for the Southwest basketball team, this is a victory for our entire school,” Selland said. “Southwest High needs these sorts of things to reinforce its pride.”

The noise from both teams’ supporters was loud enough to drown out the official’s whistle on a foul call late in the fourth quarter. Play continued for almost two minutes before the officials were able to confer and straighten things out.

San Ysidro had three players score in double figures in the loss, led by Javion Watson’s 13 points. The Cougars made only three three-pointers, well below their season average of eight per game.

“We were lucky that they didn’t have one of their hot three-point shooting games,” Selland said.

Southwest’s four-point win creates a tie with San Ysidro for first place in the South Bay League with one game left. On Thursday night, the Raiders play at Mar Vista and San Ysidro hosts Castle Park in games that will decide who wins the league title.

Southwest – 53 (13-15-12-13)

Davis 20, Gladden 15, Weston 8, Henry 5, Villegas 5 (starters)

San Ysidro – 49 (13-8-16-12)

Watson 13, Martin 12, Steward 9, Chandler Tarrant 2, Paris 0 (starters) Brendon Tarrant 11, Guzman 2


Southwest guard Marcus Gladden shoots a jumper over San Ysidro guard Brendon Tarrant

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