In the Mission Prep locker room after Friday night’s win over San Luis Obispo, the team adopted a new theme song: “Back to Back” by Drake.
Mission Prep’s 73-67 win, the Royals tenth in a row, sealed its second consecutive PAC 8 title. This year, they will share the title with St. Joseph, a team with an identical 13-1 record.
“We play for an opportunity to call ourselves champions. Today, we get to call ourselves champions,” Mission Prep coach Terrance Harris said. “So we are happy.”
With Mission Prep up 69-67, a controversial foul call against San Luis Obispo with 48 second left caused Tigers coach Jeff Brandow to erupt in disgust. His reaction, which included nearly pulling the shirt off his back, caused the referee to call a technical foul. Mission Prep got free throws and the ball and drew another foul on the ensuing possession. When San Luis Obispo finally got the ball back, it was 72-67 with 20 seconds left.
After the game, Brandow took the blame for his team’s loss.
“Super proud of my kids and how hard they battled and how far they have come this year,” Brandow said solemnly inside the San Luis Obispo locker room. “Bottom line is: The loss is on me. I didn’t do a good enough job to prepare them, and getting a technical with 50 seconds left was not my intention.”
“I’m disappointed in myself,” he added.
Brandow wasn’t critical of the referees after the game but offered this statistic: Mission Prep shot 30 free throws; San Luis Obispo shot eight.
Mission Prep’s Max Basile got into foul trouble in the first half, but he made his presence felt in the third and fourth quarters. In the final two minutes, Basile grabbed two offensive rebounds and converted on a critical three-point play that gave Mission Prep a five-point lead with 1:12 to play.
“We were just able to keep our composure,” Basile said of dealing with the rowdy home crowd. “During a timeout in the fourth quarter, coach just talked about staying calm and playing our game, and that’s what we did.”
Basile, a senior, also scored eight points in the third quarter as Mission Prep stretched its lead to 56-49 heading into the fourth. He finished the game with 14 points and five rebounds.
Kyle Stewart led the Royals in scoring with 18 points, along with a pair of blocks.
Kyle Colvin carried the second unit with 16 points.
SLO’s Big Three
Every time Mission Prep tried to pull away, Alex Chai, Augusto Supertino or Seth Moore pulled the Tigers back in it.
In the first half, it was Chai. On senior night, the senior guard scored 10 points. He finished the game with 18 points but was held scoreless in the fourth quarter.
Senior Supertino grabbed 12 rebounds and scored 17 points, including a pull-up 3-point shot that brought San Luis Obispo to within three points with a minute to play.
Moore had a game-high 19 points, including seven in the fourth quarter.
“I thought the way we battled was something I haven’t seen all year,” Brandow said. “Those guys battled their hearts out and left it all on the floor.”
As if the game wasn’t crazy enough on its own — complete with chanting student sections, controversial calls and the fast pace of play — a pair of barely dressed students added to the drama when they ran across the gym late in the fourth quarter. The streakers ran behind the basket during a Mission Prep free throw attempt and caused the game to be stopped momentarily.
Brackets for the CIF Southern Section playoffs will be released Sunday.
Both teams are expected to play in the CIF Southern Section 4AA playoffs. Brandow said San Luis Obispo, a team that only won two games in PAC 8 play last season, will sneak in, and he hopes that the CIF will give the Tigers a chance at a rematch against Mission Prep in the second or third round — if his team makes it that far.
Mission Prep, who made it all the way to the finals last season, hopes to make another deep run and should draw a high seed. The Royals were ranked No. 9 in the latest CIF Southern Section 4AA poll.
“It takes a family atmosphere to have a good run,” Harris said. “Right now, these guys are believing in each other and that’s as good as anything.”