SECTION DREAMS END FOR SUMMERVILLE

March 06, 2003 12:00 am

BY KEVIN SAULS

LODI — In a thrilling game that was like a great heavyweight fight, Summerville High School fell to Marysville 70-67 in overtime in the semifinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV boys' basketball playoffs last night at Tokay High.

The sixth-seeded Bears and the No. 7 Indians traded haymakers from start to finish, with each staggering the other and then being staggered in return numerous times. In the end, Marysville (22-10) landed the last couple punches — a tiebreaking free throw by forward Casey Fletcher with 4.2 seconds left, and a steal of the ensuing inbounds pass by center Matt Brocker — and advanced to Saturday's 3:30 p.m. championship game at Arco Arena in Sacramento against top-seeded defending champion Amador (24-5), which routed No. 4 Riverbank 68-42 last night.

Marysville is in the finals for the third time. The Indians won the title in 1989 and finished second in 1994.

Summerville (22-8) was trying to reach the finals for the third time as well, and the Bears probably would have made it had they shot better than 9-for-19 from the free-throw line (to Marysville's 15-for-20). But Summerville coach Marlen Ronten, a veteran of many playoff barnburners in 28 years at the helm, stressed the positives in the emotional aftermath.

"I was very proud of our kids and how they battled," Ronten said. "We're pretty slight, and Marysville was pretty big and tough. It was a great game, and we played with a lot of heart."

Summerville star Joe Sanders, the silky, left-handed senior forward who scored a game-high 27 points, wore his heart on his sleeve at the end of his stellar career.

"I love these guys ... that's why it's so emotional," Sanders said.