Bears rally in 4th to claim school’s first CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV hoops title

Written by Alex MacLean, The Union Democrat March 03, 2013 11:00 pm

SACRAMENTO — A 14-2 scoring run by Summerville to end the first half Saturday against Liberty Ranch helped power the Bears to a 63-52 win at Sleep Train Arena for the 2012-13 CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV basketball championship.

“The turning point was definitely that run we made,” said Summerville captain Rosendo Amaya-Wood. “We got the first two points of the second half and they knew we were coming for them.”

The Bears battled the Hawks closely in the third quarter and went into the fourth trailing 39-38, but they saved the best for last.

Bear guard Logen Foster quickly tied the game after getting fouled and sinking a free throw in the first eight seconds of the fourth quarter. He grabbed the 41-39 lead for Summerville seconds later with a layup.

After Liberty Ranch’s Michael Meserole was fouled and made one of his free throws, Bear guard Joey Brocchini dished a pass to Amaya-Wood inside the paint for another 2-point bucket to make the score 43-40. 

That was when Bear guard Kyle McLaurin hit the floor and nailed back-to-back 3-pointers from the corner on his only two shots of the game. McLaurin had two treys from around the same spot in the quarterfinals game Feb. 22 against Encina Prep that sparked a Summerville comeback.

“That’s a real simple shot for me,” said McLaurin, who has been on a shooting spree in the Section playoffs after he was forced to miss several games near the end of the Mother Lode League season due to illness.

After Meserole — one of the leading scorers in the history of his school — answered McLaurin with back-to-back 3-pointers of his own, Summerville forward Connor Morningstar got the ball under the hoop off a Brocchini pass and was fouled while putting it in for 2-points. He cooly sank the free throw for a three-point play that put the Bears up 52-46 with 4:35 left.

“We had a huge height advantage on the inside, so they couldn’t really handle us in the post,” said the 6-7 Morningstar, who scored a team-high 12 points and went 4 for 5 from the free-throw line.

On Summerville’s next bucket, it was Brocchini under the hoop getting a long pass from Foster for 2-points, showing off some of their team’s interchangeability that has left opposing coaches stunned throughout the postseason.

“We knew they were going to be tough and they played great,” Brocchini said of Liberty Ranch. “We started out slow but came back and I’m proud of my team.”

Morningstar was fouled on the ensuing possession and sank both free throws to give Summerville its first double-digit lead, 56-46. He scored another two points off a layup followed by Foster going 5 for 7 from the free-throw line to seal the 11-point victory.

“I really think our bigs (Morningstar, Amaya-Wood, Jesse Roberson) played really well especially in the second half,” said Foster. “They started getting really fired up and were getting those rebounds. They were doing a really great job keeping us in it.”

Summerville out-rebounded Liberty Ranch 47-37, with Amaya-Wood grabbing a game-high 14 boards. Roberson had eight rebounds while Morningstar had seven.

“He’s awesome on the glass,” said Roberson of Morningstar. “He was really helpful on defense, when their guards were driving the lane he would either slow them or stop them completely.”

Summerville’s scoring was consistent as usual, with Foster scoring 11, Brocchini 10, Amaya-Wood nine, Roberson eight, McLaurin six off his two treys, Colton Ebbers four and Bryce Farrell 3, in addition to Morningstar’s 12.

“I really think Connor kind of proved himself,” said Ebbers. “You got all these other guys who contributed to the game, but I think Connor has really found himself in this postseason and has just been an outstanding player on the basketball court.”

Meanwhile, Liberty Ranch’s Meserole scored a game-high 24 points, DeAndre Stallings added 15, Chris Childs seven, Matt Thomas five and Nick Friend one. The Hawks shot 18 for 61 (29.5 percent) from the field, while the Bears were 21 for 50 (42 percent). 

Summerville head coach Ben Watson said he was impressed with the way Roberson, Foster and Ebbers defended Meserole. He scored 30 points in Liberty Ranch’s overtime win against Colfax in the semifinals.

Morningstar said Ebbers also played a role coming off the bench in the second quarter and sparking the team to their comeback before the half.

“He has a ton of energy and plays his heart out,” said Morningstar. “He’s got a good turnaround jump shot and can guard a big guy and a little guy because he’s strong and quick. He and the rest of our guards did a good job up top shutting (Meserole) down. That was pretty key to win”

The Bears had a shaky start in the first quarter and were outscored 14-6. Six unanswered points to start the second put Summerville in its biggest hole, 20-8, and that was when the Bears clawed their way back.

Roberson sank two free throws, followed by a 2-point jumper by Farrell off an assist from Morningstar, a layup by Ebbers for two more and a Morningstar 2-pointer to bring the Bears within three points.

With 1:15 left in the second quarter, Brocchini grabbed a defensive rebound and passed the ball to Farrell, who dished it to Roberson for a 3-pointer from the corner that tied the game 20-20. Each team got two more points to keep the score even at the break.

“That’s what’s so good about us — we share the ball,” said Watson of the unselfishness that was on full display Saturday. “Nobody’s trying to be the high-point man and I think that’s what sets us apart from a lot of teams.”

In the final minute of the game, Bears Reese Mohler, Jeff Grabow and Kenny Phillips took the floor to close it out and held the Hawks scoreless.

“When it’s a close game, we get to run out to them at the end and hug them and that’s how I envisioned it going today,” said Grabow of the team’s starters. “Then I realized they were going to be running out to us and it was just awesome.”

Mohler, a senior, was selected by captains Roberson and Amaya-Wood to receive the Sportsmanship Award and was presented with a medal at the end of the game by CIF officials.

“It just meant a whole lot to me,” he said. “I usually don’t get a whole lot of playing time, but I keep working hard in practice. It’s nice to know if you keep your head down and work hard that people will notice.”

“I just love being around the guys and practicing with them everyday,” said Phillips. “This has been a great experience all around.”

Watson said that he hopes his Bears are enjoying being the first-ever Summerville basketball team to win a Section blue banner, but knows Wednesday’s state playoff game at home — the first to ever be hosted at the school — will likely be on their minds as well.

“I know them too well,”  Watson said. “I know they are super excited and really proud of themselves for what they accomplished, but knowing them they still want to keep going as far as they can. They are the type of group that’s gonna keep working on getting better everyday and that’s what’s been so special about working with this group.”