Saipan Southern High School cruised past Marianas High School, 54-33, in the finals of the boys division of the 2018 PSS High School Basketball Tournament held over the weekend at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.
The Manta Rays, who earned a twice-to-beat advantage in the finale after winning their first two games in the double-elimination playoffs, dominated the Dolphins in Game 1, building an early double-digit spread, 27-15, en route to the title victory.
Southern took control of Game 1, as it hit several triples in the 15-minute first half. Coby Santos nailed back-to-back triples, while Jeremie Manansala and N-Nes Siech knocked in one apiece to put their team in front by 12 at the break.
When the game resumed, the MHS scored 8 unanswered points to move within 4, 23-27. However, that was the closest the Dolphins could get, as Southern regrouped and widened the gap anew. Manta Rays had too many options on offense that it was easier for them to score, while MHS could not find the right combination to complete its comeback bid.
Santos and Siech, who both play for MHS coach Preston Basa in the Diaz youth league, gave the young mentor some headaches, as the two Southern players finished in twin digits. Santos had a game-high 12 points—all came from the 3-point area—while Siech added 10 and was steady in facilitating the offense of the Ed Guinto-coached Manta Rays.
Jerome Malasarte and Chiochi Dela Cruz contributed 8 points each, while three other Southern players combined for 10 markers, and three more added one field goal apiece. Sean Apasan had 10 markers to lead MHS.
The Dolphins played Game 1 of the title duel less than an hour after they took the second finals berth following a tough 16-14 victory over Tinian. Southern, on the other hand, was a bit rested going into the championship round, as it played in the first semis match at 11am and defeated MHS, 49-46. Game 1 started around 2pm, while the Tinian-MHS tiff for the last finals berth kicked off at 12:45pm.
The playoff matches were all played last Saturday, while all four teams had three games each in the preliminary round last Friday to determine the seeding. Southern was seeded first after a 3-0 record in the preliminary and moved into the semis after downing Tinian. Kagman placed second, but ended up last in the tournament, as it was beaten by No. 3 MHS in the first playoff match and also bowed to Tinian in the loser’s bracket.
SSHS 54 — Santos 12, Siech 10, Malasarte 8, Dela Cruz 8, Matalog 4, Manansala 3, Cobacha 3, Lagmay 2, Ordona 2, Contreras 2.
MHS 33 — Apasan 10, Leon Guerrero 7, Manalo 4, Gaviola 4, Laxa 2, Augustin 2, Kisa 2, Maano 2.
Scoring by halves: 27-15, 54-33.