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Damien falls in shocker

first_imgLA VERNE – When the postseason rolls around, one can expect teams to pull out all the stops. Every team knows if they lose, they go home. On Friday night, both Damien High School and Newport Harbor came out with that fire and intensity, which led to an ending few expected. Junior center Kyle Caldwell hit a turnaround jumper with 1.9 seconds left and forward Justin Dunlap stole the ensuing inbound pass as the visiting Sailors shocked the Spartans 43-41 in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division I-A boys basketball playoffs. “We’d watched \ and knew about them and they knew about us, and that’s kinda what happens in the playoffs,” Damien coach Matt Dunn said. “They just made one tough shot. What are you going to do?” Damien’s loss came on the heels of a heartbreaking 62-60 loss to Glendora in the Sierra League finale, and it appeared the Spartans may not have fully recovered. “I thought we played really hard \,” Dunn said. “A game like that, when you lose a close one, they make a tough shot and that’s the way it goes.” The Sailors earned their spot in the first round after a 56-40 victory over Riverside Poly in a wild-card game Wednesday, and they took that momentum into Friday’s game to beat a talented team in Damien (23-6). “I feel very fortunate to have survived,” Newport Harbor coach Larry Hirst said. “Full house, fans yelling back and forth. I mean, it was a lot of fun, obviously it’s fun when you win, but that’s a very, very good team we beat.” center_img In a game that displayed both teams’ defensive talents and got very physical as the game progressed, Caldwell was able to carry the Sailors in the fourth quarter and delivered the winning basket after getting roughed up much of the game. After two free throws by Spartans senior Griffin Ramme tied the game 41-41 with 35 seconds left, the Sailors decided they would play for the last shot. Newport Harbor players scrambled around as the clock ticked under 10 seconds, and Caldwell was forced to throw up a turnaround jumper from just inside the 3-point line over a defender with 1.9 seconds left. As the ball went in, the packed crowd erupted in an even mix of cheers and gasps. With one last chance, Damien inbounded the ball just behind the halfcourt line with 1.6 seconds left, but Dunlap rushed over and poked the ball away to preserve the upset. “We talked about all the different adversities we were going to face coming into a hostile environment, and our kids just responded. They never gave up,” Hirst said. Caldwell, hampered by a foot injury the past eight games, scored 10 of his team-high 15 points in the fourth quarter and finished with nine rebounds. He was the target of Damien’s defense for most of the game, and Hirst said he thought Caldwell’s frustration may have been the reason for his late surge. “I don’t want to give away any secrets,” Hirst said, “but when you make \ mad, he goes to a whole other level.” Junior forward Austin Napolitano kept the Spartans in front early, hitting three 3-pointers in the first quarter to help Damien to a 14-11 lead going into the second period. But Dunlap carried the Sailors to a 23-21 halftime lead with 12 points and 11 rebounds in the first half. He finished the game with 13 points and 14 rebounds. The Spartans’ defense stepped up its game in the third, holding the Sailors to two points in the quarter and taking a 33-25 lead into the fourth before Caldwell took over for Newport Harbor. [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2239 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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