COLUMBIA -- Amid the smiles and laughter, it was clear that Downey High's Joe Napoleon wanted to win Saturday's Mother Lode Extravaganza. Why else would he have taken a charge in the final minutes of an all-star basketball game?
"Yeah I wanted to win. I always like to win," said the 6-foot-4 forward, who stood his ground as Pitman's Sam Madden crashed into him under the hoop. "No one had taken a charge all night, though, so I wasn't sure they would call it."
Napoleon's defensive play, rare in a game fueled by 3-point shots and a furious pace, proved decisive as the Dark team held off the Light team for a 116-110 victory in the large-school game at Columbia College.
Moments after he had raced back on defense to draw the charge, Napoleon used his size to go inside for a bucket to give the Dark team a 112-107 lead with 1:45 remaining. He finished with 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers -- showing surprising range for a power forward.
The question now is whether Napoleon will swap his sneakers for cleats. He was a star receiver on the Knights' football team last fall, despite having never suited up before.
"I love basketball, but football coaches are excited about what I did in my first year," said Napoleon, whose size, strength and jumping ability is more of an asset in football. "I'm excited about the chance to play some more football."
While Napoleon drew a round of applause from the crowd for taking the charge, the Dark's offensive star was Pitman's Adam Lewallen. He had 23 points and was named the MVP, while Downey guard Booker Hinton scored 12 of his 21 in the final period.
In the skills contests, West's Terrance Jones beat out Big Valley's Jared Lunsford and Mariposa's Tim Oswald in the 3-point challenge and Hinton -- despite a height disadvantage -- beat Modesto's Josh Jones in the finals of the dunk competition.