A well-rested Marianas High School side capitalized on a tired Saipan Southern High School in cruising to a 113-77 blowout win in the finals of the 2014-2015 Marianas Interscholastic Sports Organization Boys Basketball League last Saturday at the MHS Gymnasium.
MHS successfully defended the title it won last year on Mike Arciaga’s put-back to escape with a 37-36 decision against Kagman High School. The Dolphins last won back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010.
The Kagman High School Ayuyus foiled the Dolphins’ three-peat bid in 2011, while Tinian High School, which only joins the double elimination round final tournament, ruled in 2012.
It was also MHS’ third overall MISO title this year after its girls squad clinched the basketball and volleyball trophies earlier in the season.
The Dolphins went undefeated in the tournament finals to clinch the first championship berth giving them the luxury to wait at the sidelines for their opponent, while the Manta Rays played three straight games including a 46-37 come-from-behind win over the Mt. Carmel Knights in the semifinals.
SSHS, after absorbing a 66-59 loss to Mt. Carmel to drop into the losers bracket on Friday, defeated Grace Christian Academy (45-32) and Kagman (51-46) to keep its finals hopes alive.
The Manta Rays again faced the Knights, who dropped 79-52 match against the Dolphins, in the semis with the finals berth on the line.
MCS was enjoying a 27-24 lead with less than four minutes left but celebrated too early and Saipan Southern used a closing 22-10 run to arrange a finals date with MHS.
In the finals, Southern seemed to show no signs of fatigue as it went toe-to-toe with MHS and was only down by 3 points, 38-35, midway in the second period. SSHS even held an 8-4 lead on Jethro Cruz’s consecutive baskets with three minutes gone in the opening period.
A Prince Factor basket ignited a 14-6 exchange as the Dolphins entered the third period with a 52-41 advantage.
Back-to-back buzzer-beating 3-pointers served as highlights of the Dolphins’ dominant second quarter with Arciaga just throwing the ball with the shot clock about to expire and John Benavente tossing a shot at the free throw line of Southern’s frontcourt to beat the clock.
Warren Ellama’s 5 straight points kicked off another barrage of points by MHS in the third quarter and Southern did not recover from there with Mikell Arciaga’s 3-pointer giving the Dolphins a 68-48 spread 5:26 left in the period.
Arciaga and Factor led MHS’ balanced scoring with 16 points each, Michael Espinosa scattered 13 markers, while Ignacio Borja and DJay Ong scored 12 and 10 apiece.
Tyler Palacios and Jethro Cruz finished with 17 and 16 points each for Southern, while Edilberto Javier Jr. ended up with 9 markers. John Paul Rivera and Mi’i Tekopua combined for 16.
MHS 113 – Arciaga 16, Factor 16, Espinosa 13, Borja 12, Ong 10, Mendoza 9, Malonzo 8, Ellama 7, Benavente 6, Dancoe 6, De Leon 4, Manalili 4, Montes 2.
SSHS 77 – Palacios 17, Cruz 16, Javier Jr. 9, Rivera 8, Tekopua 8, Bondoc 6, Taitano 6, Esmundo 4, Kintaro 3.
Scoring by quarters: 24-23 52-41, 86-56, 113-77.