Chasing San Ysidro for a month after losing their league opener, Southwest has finally caught up. Wednesday night, the Raiders never trailed in a 69-61 win over the Cougars, clinching at least a share of the South Bay League crown.
“This is our league – it’s ours,” said Southwest guard Jay Santos. “It’s our banner.”
Both teams came into the game with identical 9-1 marks in league play, giving the winner the inside track to a league title. From the opening tip, that fact didn’t appear lost on Southwest, who raced out to a 21-6 lead.
“It’s great we came out as hard as we did,” Santos said. “We kind of let it go for a while but then we were able to get it back.”
San Ysidro closed the first quarter with a 7-2 run in the final two minutes to cut the Southwest lead to 10. The Cougars used full court defense to get back in the game in the second quarter, cutting the Raiders’ lead to four at one point and trailing by seven at the half.
“San Ysidro’s press does that to you,” said Southwest coach Steve Selland. “They wear on you as the game goes on.”
After halftime, Southwest kept San Ysidro at bay by pounding the ball inside to forwards Emilio Arellano and Maris Boldridge. The Raiders led by nine at the end of the third quarter and never led by less than five en route to their 10th straight win.
“When we lost that early game to Montgomery it really set us back,” Selland said. “Our kids said the day after that they were not going to lose in league – and they did it. I got to hand it to them. They came through with a 10-game winning streak that is very impressive.”
In order to even have a chance at the South Bay title, Southwest had to run the table following that loss in their league opener. Selland said the Raiders had their backs against the wall during the entire league campaign.
“It wasn’t just tonight. Along the way we just had so many moments where we could have lost, we could have threw in the towel, but the kids hung in there and I’m very proud of them for that,” Selland said.
Four of Southwest’s starters finished in double figures. Arellano led the way with 15 points.
Southwest can claim the league title outright with a win at Sweetwater on Friday. Not bad for a team that started the season 2-8 playing the likes of Poway, Hoover and La Jolla.
“We play a very tough non-league schedule and that prepares us for our league,” Selland said. “You get in those tough games against North County opponents, it prepares you for league games.”
San Ysidro was led by guard Javion Watson’s game-high 20 points. The Cougars’ loss hurts their chances a top-four seed in the Division II playoffs.
Southwest – 69 (23-14-18-14)
Arellano 15, Santos 14, Weston 13, Morris 13, Boldridge 9 (starters) Mandapat 4, Gladden 1
San Ysidro – 61 (13-17-16-15)
Watson 20, Yarborough 19, B. Tarrant 2, Chollet 0, Covarrubias 0 (starters) Shumate 13, C. Tarrant 5, Pierson 2
San Ysidro guard Javion Watson goes up for a shot between Southwest forwards Maris Baldridge (21) and Lamar Weston