2013: Saints and Horizon Win Cliffhangers

The circumstance and the stage may have made for the most defining athletic moment in St. Augustine’s 91-year history.

It wasn’t that the Saints pulled away from San Francisco Sacred Heart Cathedral in overtime Saturday in Sacramento and won the State Division III championship, 59-52.  That would be second.

No. 1 would be the gutty, cold-as-ice performance at the free throw line by the Saints’ Trey Kell.

After leading almost all 32 minutes St. Augustine was about to blow the championship sky high to the resourceful Fightin’ Irish, who come from a school that had been around 48 years before the Augustinian priests founded St. Augustine in 1922 at the intersection of 32nd and Nutmeg  in North Park.

Surrendering a four-point lead with 26.8 seconds to play and trailing, 47-44, the Saints had a last chance when Kell attempted a three-point jumper.

3 OR OUT

Trey was fouled on his trey with 2.9 seconds remaining.  The Sacred Heart blunder gave the Saints hope, but Kell would have to make three successive free throws, with everything on the line.

The 6-foot, 4-inch junior guard drained all three.  Each attempt hit the bottom of the net.  It was a remarkable demonstration of poise and skill.

Kell finished the game with 30 points and 11 rebounds in another superlative performance that begged the question:

Why wasn’t Kell (or teammate Brynton Lemar) chosen San Diego Section player of the year, instead of 7-foot Kameron Rooks, whose Mission Hills team took a 17-point beating in the Southern California regional final against Santa Monica?

Kell is a difference maker.

The victory gave coach Mike Haupt his first state championship in Haupt’s 17-season run (330-173 overall record) with the Saints (29-4), erasing some of the disappointment of a 67-56 loss to Santa Cruz in the D-III championship in 2005.

Haupt told Terry Monahan of UT-San Diego that “I was losing my mind in the final minutes.  I could feel it slipping away.”

As he did in the Saints’ 11-point, fourth-quarter comeback against West Hills Chaminade in the Southern regional the week before, Haupt kept his hand on the rudder and his  team rode out the storm.

DEFEAT WAS ON THE HORIZON

Horizon’s finish with Alameda  St. Joseph Notre Dame in D-V was just as frantic as the Saints’.

Sophomore Ethan Underwood launched a running jumper from beyond the NBA three-point line as time expired and Horizon, No. 1 seed from the South, pulled out a 47-46 victory  over the top seed from the North.

Coach Tyrone Hopkins’ Panthers closed with a rush, winning their last nine games to finish with a 21-11 record and their fourth state championship.

Horizon won D-IV titles in 2002, ’04, and ’06.

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4 Responses to 2013: Saints and Horizon Win Cliffhangers

  1. Jon Vivian says:

    Did any city in Cal have the success of San Diego? 2 state champs, one runnerup? I’m impressed.

    • Rick says:

      It’s hard to quantify. With all of the surrounding suburbs and communities in the Los Angeles area, where do you draw the line on the city of Los Angeles?. The tournament still is going on but the best I can determine is that the Los Angeles City Section did not have a winning team in the state tournament. However, Windward of the Southern Section is located in the Palms district of L.A. and Pacific Hills is in West Hollywood, which is part of L.A. Maybe Bishop Alemany of Mission Hills would also qualify as city of L.A. There may be others, but San Diego, often maligned as a barren basketball area, came up tough and seems to get a little better each year.

  2. Shorty Robertson says:

    Great piece highlighting “the most significant moment in Saints 91 year sports history”. I can think of no way a high school athlete could be put under more pressure.

    • Rick says:

      So many players, high school, college, and pros, don’t practice free throws and the results are obvious. This young man looked as if he probably shoots a 100 every day.

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