Maranatha basketball holds off La Salle
Maranatha Minutemen never fall behind in second half in topping crosstown rival La Salle Lancers, 58-52.
Pepperdine-bound Maranatha guard Jeremy Major finished with 20 points, including two key free throws in the final minute to seal the victory for the Minutemen. (Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff Photographer / January 4, 2013)
Even though the host Minutemen fell in boys’ and girls’ soccer and girls’ basketball, Maranatha still walked away with the jewel of the evening in the form of a 58-52 victory in boys’ basketball.
“You know as you can see around, this is just a great high school environment,” Maranatha Coach Tim Godley said after the game as the home crowd rushed in a frenzy to congratulate the winning side. “You don’t ever want to lose in that environment and this is such a great rivalry.
“I give a lot of credit to La Salle, they’re a great team and we had to play tough to win.”
The Minutemen (12-4), ranked 11th in Division IV-AA, led, 54-47, after a layup from senior guard Jeremy Major with 1:21 left in the game when sixth-ranked La Salle (8-4) made a final charge.
Lancers sophomore Chris Robinson scored from four feet thanks to a baseline pass from senior guard Israel Lacy with 57 seconds left that cut the deficit to five.
Lacy (eight points and six steals) then stole possession away from the Minutemen and fed teammate Milan Acquuah, who led all players with 26 points, under the basket.
Acquuah was fouled and sank one of the next two free throws to bring La Salle within 54-50 with 29 seconds left.
La Salle then chose correctly when Robinson fouled Maranatha’s Michael DeMeester, who missed both free-throw attempts of a double bonus.
Yet, the second miss was rebounded by Maranatha’s Caylan Swinnie, who fed the Pepperdine-bound Major, who was fouled.
“It just came down to the little things for us tonight,” Lancers first-year Coach Jelani Gardner said. “We didn’t box out there or we missed a free throw here. We didn’t seem to close traps and we just never took the lead.”
Major, who finished with 20 points and eight rebounds, sank both free throws with 20 seconds left to ice the game as the Minutemen took a 56-50 advantage.
“This is a big win for us because this is our big rivalry game,” said Minutemen senior forward Jalen Jones, who finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and two steals. “La Salle is a really scrappy team and they were able to get back in the game, but we were able to handle their runs.”
Maranatha led, 14-5, after one quarter and extended its lead to 24-13 with 3:42 left in the second after a jumper from Major.
Yet, La Salle fought back and closed the deficit to 28-22 at the half after freshman guard Vance Jackson stole a pass at mid-court and glided to a layup with 22 seconds left in the half.
Maranatha’s lead remained between six to 10 points before an offensive rebound and putback from La Salle’s Garrett Stone brought the Lancers within 42-37 with 1:06 left in the third.
The bucket was followed by a step-back three-pointer from Acquuah with 35 seconds left in the third followed by a fall-away jumper from Acquuah on the first possession of the fourth quarter that knotted the score at 42.
Just as La Salle tied, though, Maranatha responded with nine of the next 11 points, including a three-pointer from Swinnie (nine points), in going up, 51-44, with 2:40 left.
“It was huge not to fall behind,” Godley said. “It’s bad to tie, but worse to lose the lead. Once we came back with some quick offense, we got the crowd behind us again and we took that to the win.”