Daniel Ruiz made five straight free throws in the final minute, 30 seconds, helping host Golden West edge previously-undefeated Sequoia 48-47 in Tuesday’s thrilling Manteca Unified Student Trust small-school boys basketball championship game.
Ruiz finished with 23 points and hit three of his four 3s in the second quarter for the 49ers (9-1), who led 25-16 at halftime. Crafty point guard Miguel Sequeira (seven points, six assists) converted a conventional 3-point play to give them their largest lead at 33-18 with about 14:50 left in the second half.
Sequoia (9-1) made it interesting in the end thanks to the stellar play of Jorge Cedano. Though he wowed the crowd at Golden West Community Gym with a behind-the-back pass early on, it was otherwise a frustrating first half for the talented guard as his shots repeatedly rimmed out.
Cedano more than made up for it in the second half when he poured in 21 of his game-high 24 points to give the Tigers a chance to steal the title in the end. Devin Galan also had a big game for Sequoia with 18 points.
Golden West failed to make a field goal in the final 7:15 of the game but managed to stay ahead with a 7-of-17 effort from the free-throw line down the stretch. Cedano accounted for Sequoia’s last six points which were scored in an 18-second span.
After Cedano drained two free throws with nine seconds to go, Galan stole the inbounds pass but a teammate missed the layup that would have pushed the Tigers ahead. They had one more opportunity in the final seconds, but a desperation 3-pointer sailed well off the mark.
St. Anthony’s 38, Golden West 15
The Roadrunners (10-0) used scrappy defense and guard depth to overcome Golden West’s taller post players and complete an undefeated run.
It was well-contested at the start as Nina Murphy’s two free throws gave St. Anthony’s a 7-6 lead going into the second quarter. Murphy and Co. took control from there, outscoring Golden West (8-2) 15-6 in the second.
Murphy finished with 20 points to lead all scorers, while Golden West 6-footer Donja Payne dominated in the paint and accounted for all but three of the 49ers points. Kaitlyn Morenzone scored the final points of the game with a jump shot and contributed eight points for the Roadrunners.