Knights rally for three-peat


Mt. Carmel School’s Anthony Deleon Guerrero drives against two Marianas Baptists Academy players during the second quarter of their title game in the high school division of the 2016-2017 Commonwealth Coalition of Private School Association Basketball League last Friday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

Scoreless in the first quarter, Mt. Carmel School exploded for 30 points in the fourth en route to a 50-39 victory over Marianas Baptist Academy in the boys high school division finals of the 2016-2017 Commonwealth Coalition of Private School Association Basketball League last Friday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.

Anthony Deleon Guerrero, Matthew Richardson, Matthew Ong, and Myles Santos teamed up in the Knights’ come-from-behind win to give MCS its second straight championship and second in a row against MBA. The Knights took their first division crown in the 2014-2015 season against Eucon International (55-46) before defending the title against MBA last year following a 70-35 demolition of the Tigers.

MBA then seemed to have a strong chance of avenging its loss to MCS last weekend after shutting down the Knights in the first quarter and leading by as much as 11 in the first half, 19-8. MBA remained ahead at the end of the third, 25-20, and even stretched it to 7, 28-21 before Deleon Guerrero and Richardson combined for the pivotal 10-0 scoring spree to put the Knights on top. Deleon Guerrero made 4 points off drives in that rally, while Richardson hit two triples with his second breaking the deadlock, 31-28, 5:58 left in the match.

It was a seesaw battle in the next minute of the game, as Minsu Park tried to keep MBA in the game. However, after the last standoff, 35-all, Matthew Ong, who was scoreless in the first three periods, drilled 6 straight points off a split from the free throw line, a triple, and a floater and Richardson added a pair of free throws to put the Knights on top for good, 43-35, with a little over a minute remaining in the finale.

Despite its safe lead, MCS played tough defense against MBA in the closing seconds to complete the come-from-behind win.

“It’s our defense that brought us back into the game. When we started playing good defense, we’re also able to get our offense working,” MCS coach Francis San Nicolas said moments after the exciting title match.

“I would like to commend my players for fighting back and keeping their focus. After we failed to score in the first quarter, I told them to keep their head in the game because that’s just eight minutes, we still have 24 minutes to play. I just want them to be patient and work harder on defense,” the Knights mentor said.

The Knights’ defense held MBA scoreless in the last two minutes and change of the second quarter and in the first three minutes of the third. MBA was stuck to 19 points, allowing MCS to bring the deficit down to single digits at the break, 10-19. Santos scored 7 of the Knights’ 10 points, stepping up just when MCS gunners were still looking for their rhythm and preventing MBA from pulling away.

Then in the third canto, one of MBA’s scorers, Deleon Guerrero, became aggressive on offense and though he missed most of his shots, he still earned points from the foul line, canning seven free throws. Santos contributed a pair as the Knights moved within 5, 20-25. MBA was held to three field goals in the penultimate frame, as MCS’ pressure defense right from the backcourt rattled the former.

Deleon Guerrero then added one more free throw to start the fourth quarter for the Knights, while Park countered with an and-1 play to up their lead to 7, 28-21. However, MBA collapsed after that while Deleon Guerrero and Richardson anchored MCS’ rally before Ong put the finishing touches in the Knights’ successful’ comeback bid.

Deleon Guerrero paced MCS with his 13 points, while Richardson added 12—10 came in the fourth quarter—and Santos and Ong combined for 15 points. Park led MBA with his 19 points, while Dave Lee and Paul Song contributed 9 apiece, but were held to one free throw apiece in the fourth period, leaving the former the only player on his team to make a field goal in the payoff canto.

The title win against MBA gave the Knights a perfect record this season and it was the third straight year that MCS ended the competition undefeated.

MCS 50 — Deleon Guerrero 13, Richardson 12, Santos 9, Ong 6, Gamab 4, Yun 3, Yun 2, Muna 1.

MBA 39 — Park 19, Lee 9, Song 9, Aaron 2.

Scoring by quarters: 0-6, 10-19, 20-25, 50-39.

Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for more than two decades. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.

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