Eucon International School committed a mental lapse in the closing seconds of its varsity game in the 2013-2014 Marianas Interscholastic Sports Organization Boys Basketball League, allowing Saipan Southern High School to pull off a 67-66 cliffhanger last Friday at the Marianas High School Gymnasium.
Clinging to a 66-65 lead with about 20 seconds left on clock and regaining possession after Southern’s Daniel Camacho failed to complete an interception down the baseline, Amos Ren made the costly error when he went to the wrong side of the court. He dribbled out of the paint and with no Southern defenders chasing him as he got to the left key, Ren headed to the Rays’ court for a layup. He missed and Southern’s Harley Warren picked up the rebound and pulled up for the go-ahead basket, which the referee counted. The basket should have been nullified and the referees should have called a backing violation on Ren right when the Blazers quarterback crossed midcourt, while awarding possession to Southern.
No calls were made and with both camps and even the spectators still in shock from Ren and the referees’ booboos, Eucon sued for time to set up a play in the last 10.1 seconds. However, Southern stood its ground on defense to keep the precarious lead and complete the come-from-behind win. Camacho blocked Ren underneath the basket, while Warren also swatted away the ball from Allen Yu, who pulled up for a long jumper from the right baseline in the last 1.3 seconds of the exciting match.
The Rays stole the win from Eucon after coming back from a 13-point deficit, 51-64, midway in the fourth quarter. Southern launched a backbreaking 13-1 run in the next four minutes and change, highlighted by back-to-back triples from Warren and Art Borromeo, to slice Eucon’s lead to one, 64-65.
Toni Li scored the Blazers’ lone point off a split free throw and Eucon could have prevented a monumental collapse if not for its poor shooting from the foul line in the fourth quarter. The Blazers went 2-for-14 from the stripe with Yu going 0-for-8, Li hitting 1-for-4, and Ren having a split.
Ren’s first free throw gave Eucon the shaky one-point lead, while Emerson Feria also went 1-for-2 earlier to force the first deadlock of the game, 65-all. Ren faltered on the second charity and made up for his miss when he hustled for the long rebound near the right corner and forced Gerald Flores to lose the ball. With their one-point lead and the 24-second shot clock down, the Blazers just needed to hang on to the ball, but the disoriented Ren instead stunned everyone with his big error.
The loss was a heartbreaker for Eucon, as it controlled majority of the match, taking an early double-digit lead in the first quarter, 24-13, and keeping the 11-point advantage at halftime, 38-27, with Yu hitting all kinds of shots. Yu eventually gassed out at the halfway mark of the fourth after scoring 9 points in the first five minutes of the final canto.
With the sorry loss, Eucon fell from second to fourth place in the team standings with its 3-4 slate, while Southern improved to a 4-3 record for second place behind the unbeaten MHS (6-0). Kagman (3-3) and Mount Carmel School (0-6) complete the varsity field.
Meanwhile, it was double celebration for Southern last Friday, as its junior varsity team also won against Eucon, 60-41.
Three players scored in twin digits in the Rays’s 19-point win. Ryan Esmundo led the way with his 17 markers, while Borromeo and DJ Espinosa chipped in 10 apiece. Southern now has a 2-4 record, while Eucon dropped to a 2-3 mark.
SSHS 60 – Esmundo 17, Borromeo 10, Espinosa 10, Bondoc 8, Deleon Guerrero 6, Rivera 3, Anderson 3.
Eucon 41 – Jam. Wang 14, Je. Wang 6, Ji 5, Jac. Wang 5, Zheng 4, P. Wang 2.
Scoring by quarters: 19-9, 30-16, 44-28, 60-41.
SSHS 67 – Flores 13, Palacios 12, Warren 8, Kintaro 7, Bondoc 6, Camacho 6, Feria 5, Borromeo 3, Reyes 2.
Eucon 66 – Yu 39, Li 11, Zhang 6, R. Wang 4, Ren 3, Jac. Wang 2.
Scoring by quarters: 13-24, 27-38, 41-48, 67-66.