ANAHEIM -- Mark Tarabilda went 31-plus minutes without making basket in Saturday‘s Southern Section Division 2AA boys’ basketball championship game at the Honda Center. The junior guard from Murrieta Valley did end up scoring, and when he did, it proved to be the difference.
Leading by a basket with 15 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Tarabilda, somehow, someway, got loose underneath the basket and hit a shot while being fouled. He stepped to the line and calmly made the subsequent free throw to secure a 50-44 victory over Compton and a title for the Knighthawks (27-4).
“There wasn’t much time left on the clock and I knew I had to get to the rack,’’ Tarabilda said. “The shot fell and then I had to focus on the free throw. It felt good when it left my hands, I knew it was going in.’’
Unfortunately, for Compton (18-13), Cliff Sims Jr. picked the wrong day to have one of his poorest games of the season. He entered as the team’s leading scorer, averaging more than 17 points.
Sims, however, managed a mere 12 points on three-for-16 shooting from the field and a five-for-14 effort from the free-throw line.
Give him credit, Sims Jr. never gave up. His jumper tied the score, 41-41, with 4:30 left in the fourth quarter and a three-pointer moved Compton to within two points with 45 seconds left.
Shane Hurley hit two free throws though and Tarabilda’s three-point play down the stretch clinched the victory.
Sims Jr. struggled from start to finish, scoring three points in the first half on one-for-seven shooting. He attempted one shot in the third quarter and missed it.
Allan Guei took it upon himself to keep the Tarbabes close. He scored eight points in the second quarter, highlighted by a layup just before the halftime buzzer to give Compton a 27-22 lead at the break.
It was more of the same in the third quarter, Guei having his way with the Murrieta Valley defense. His layup at 4:19 gave Compton a four-point lead.
The Knighthawks answered, Jackson Helms in particular. He made a layup and knocked down a baseline jumper to give Murrieta Valley a 34-32 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Justin Gudger did a good job of scoring in first half for the Knighthawks. He had 13 points while no other Murrieta Valley player had more than four points at intermission.