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Knights upset defending champion Lancers in overtime

UNIV. OF SAN DIEGO – After Bishop’s lost twice to Francis Parker in the regular season, a rematch in the Division IV finals was the charm. Saturday afternoon at the Jenny Craig Pavilion, third-seeded Bishop’s upset the top-seeded and defending champion Francis Parker 73-70 in overtime.

“Losing twice to the same team didn’t feel good and I just knew that they weren’t going to beat us a third time,” said Bishop’s guard Dominique Watkins. “We just had to come out and play harder than them.”

Bishop’s (15-14) led by five with 39.6 seconds left in overtime after Watkins made two free throws, but the Knights had to survive a frantic finish. Francis Parker guard Dalante Dunklin cut the Bishop’s lead to three points with 27.6 seconds left and after a Knights’ turnover, forward Eric Norman made a layup to make it a one-point game with 15 seconds left.

After two Watkins free throws, Francis Parker (21-8) had a chance to force double overtime. But Norman missed a three-pointer and Bishop’s guard Dominique Love grabbed the rebound to secure the victory.

“It means a lot because of the whole experience this season. We started off 0-4, we got our football players back and we were still losing and no one believed that Bishop’s was good this year,” Watkins said. “We always believed in ourselves and believed in our coach, and we just proved what hard work can do.”

The game was played close throughout, and neither team had a lead larger than six points. Bishop’s led 34-32 at halftime and Francis Parker had a one-point lead headed into the fourth quarter.

Trailing 60-56 with two minutes left, Francis Parker responded with five straight points and took the lead on a Jared Blake three with 48.9 seconds left. After Love made one of two free throws both teams traded baskets, and Francis Parker was unable to score in the final possession of regulation.

“When we went into overtime, I was wishing that we could have ended it in regulation,” said Bishop’s head coach Matt Niehues.

Bishop’s took control early in overtime and hung on to win its first section title since 2009. The championship was the first for Niehues, the Knights’ first-year head coach.

“He was getting a lot of flak because he was a new coach, and all along it was us who weren’t executing. It was never a problem with him,” Watkins said. “It proves that he is a great coach. It’s his first year and he’s already a CIF championship coach.”

Love scored a game-high 27 points to lead Bishop’s, and Watkins scored 18 of his 24 points after halftime. The Knights kept the pace fast for the entire game, and continued to push the ball in overtime.

“Coach was running us towards the end of the season, saying we needed to get in shape the whole time,” Watkins said. “We were complaining but that really helped throughout the playoffs. We’re a really athletic team, and we know we can just keep the pace up and we could beat them.”

After beating Mater Dei in the quarterfinals, Bishop’s exacted revenge by upsetting Coastal League rivals La Jolla Country Day in the semis and Francis Parker in the finals. Both teams swept the Knights in league play, but Bishop’s struck the last blow.

“We wanted to play them again; we wanted revenge,” Watkins said. “As long as we played hard, crashed the boards and played defense, we knew we were going to win it.”

Three players finished in double figures for Francis Parker led by Dunklin, who scored 19 points. The Lancers won the Division IV section title in 2010 and have made the finals each of the past three seasons.

Bishop’s 73 – (16-18-14-15-10)

Love 27, Watkins 24, Kaiser 14, Chong 3, Fishburne 2 (starters) Alexander 3

Francis Parker – 70 (16-16-17-14-7)

Dunklin 19, Blake 18, Norman 13, Polk 6, Fitzner 6 (starters) Baker 6, Schreiner 2


Bishop’s guard Dominique Watkins goes up for a layup between four Francis Parker defenders

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