With their heads down and their feet trudging along, the Morro Bay High boys basketball players made a teary-eyed walk from the team locker room to the hallway of their school’s gym, where family and friends greeted them with hugs.
It was another painful scene.
The Pirates revisited last year’s heartbreak Wednesday night with a 71-52 loss to Chaminade of West Hills in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 4AA playoffs, marking the second consecutive time they’ve been eliminated shortly after winning the Los Padres League title.
Morro Bay spent a few minutes after the loss reflecting on the season.
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“When their disappointment of their last game of high school fades a little bit,” Pirates coach Dave Yamate said, “they’re going to be so proud of the legacy that they left here with back-to-back titles.”
Last season, Morro Bay lost 73-60 to Covina in the opening round after winning a league title for the first time in 12 years. The Pirates redeemed themselves by successfully completing back-to-back league campaigns this season, something the school has only done three times in 53 years, according to Yamate.
Against Chaminade, the Pirates (17-10) could only twice cut the deficit to nine points in the second half. And when they had an opportunity to make a late-game push, Chaminade answered from almost every spot on the court.
Jaron Martin led the Eagles (18-9) with 25 points after hitting three 3-points and finishing with pull-up jumpers and driving layups, Justin Eisen came off the bench to contribute 13 points and 6-foot-8 sophomore Jack Williams was more than an inside presence by recording two 3s to finish with 19 points.
“We cut it to nine a couple times, but it was hard to get over that team because we’d make a shot, they’d make a shot, and then we’d make a shot and then they’d make a shot,” said Morro Bay forward Edward Griley, who finished with a team-high 17 points. “They ended up making more.”
Fellow post player Scott Milligan had 12 points, and Marcus Zorovich and Luke Munds added nine and eight, respectively.
After being down by as many as 16 in the first half, the Pirates came within nine twice in the third quarter, once after a Bryce Owens 3-pointer early on to make it 41-32 and another after Griley’s baseline drive to end the period on a 6-0 run narrowed the deficit to 53-44.
“We had opportunities to cut into the lead but we just couldn’t get over the hump,” Yamate said. “It wasn’t because of a lack of effort.”
In the fourth quarter, Morro Bay managed only one field goal — a running floater by Zorovich — before the final minute, when Chaminade allowed two uncontested layups to Griley. The Eagles outscored the Pirates 18-8 in that period.
It was quite a turnaround for Morro Bay, which started the game with a 5-0 run. But Chaminade, the ninth-seeded team in the division that finished fifth in the Mission League, went on a 17-2 tear and ended the first period with a 22-12 advantage.
“It was a fun season,” Griley said. “Going back to back, it’s a good feeling. Knowing that we did that with all these quality guys, it hasn’t been done here for a really long time. I think we came out winners.”