Los Angeles Preps: Usoma Mbelu
March, 19, 2011
By Sean Ceglinsky | ESPNLosAngeles.com
ONTARIO -- With the final seconds ticking off the fourth-quarter clock in Saturday's Southern California Regional boys' basketball playoff game, Thurman Thomas did not panic. The senior guard from Playa del Rey St. Bernard High kept his wits about him.
Thomas grabbed an errrant shot by Usoma Mbelu along the baseline, turned toward the rim and tossed in the game-winning basket, a floater, as time expired to lift the Vikings to a 61-59 Division V title over Chatsworth Sierra Canyon at Colony High.
"I had to make a quick decision and get the ball up. Once I did, I knew the shot was going in,'' Thomas said. "You know what the funny thing part is, I had a dream that I was going to hit the game-winner last night. I guess things work out sometimes.''
The Vikings (26-8) entered the game knowing that in order to be successful, they needed to stop Jahmel Taylor of Sierra Canyon (27-6). The sophomore guard struggled throughout and finished with four points, well below his 22-point average.
"We wanted to frustrate Taylor, bother him, we weren't going to let him beat us, no way,'' Vikings coach Reggie Morris said.
With Taylor seemingly a non-factor, the Trailblazers turned to Michael Cohen. The senior guard responded too, scoring 10 of his 15 points in the first half of play help Sierra Canyon take what appeared to be a comfortable 36-29 lead at halftime.
St. Bernard responded, Brandon Randolph in particular. He scored back-to-back baskets to start the fourth quarter. His 3-pointer with 1:58 left tied the score at 57-57 and essentially set the stage for Thomas' late game heroics.
Thomas finished with 13 points. Teammate Daniel Cordoba scored 13 points as well.
Sean Ceglinsky covers preps for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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