A nightmare first quarter had the Mariposa High boys basketball team trying to overcome an early big deficit from the start.
The third-seeded Grizzlies almost pulled off the comeback with a furious fourth-quarter rally, but No. 2 Brookside Christian was able to hold on to defeat Mariposa 68-62 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V semifinals on Wednesday at Galt High.
“We came out tight,” Grizzlies coach Corey Edmiston said. “We made a lot of uncharacteristic passes. I think our guys were trying to do too much early.”
As a result the Grizzlies went scoreless on their first eight trips down the court. They turned the ball over 11 times in the first quarter and as a result shot only seven times in the first eight minutes, making two.
The Knights took advantage, jumping out to a 16-2 lead before settling with a 16-6 lead after the first quarter.
“We knew we were a better team than we showed in that first quarter,” said Mariposa senior Jadin Battles, who finished with 16 points and eight rebounds. “We came back and kept our heads up and we trusted each other.”
The problem for the Grizzlies (24-6) was every time they put together a run, the Knights (23-4) answered with one of their own.
Battles drew a foul on a rebound and hit a pair of free throws to pull Mariposa within 17-12. However, Brookside Christian used a 12-2 run to open up a 33-15 lead.
The Grizzlies again pulled close in the third quarter with an 11-2 run to cut the deficit to 37-31 with 3:33 left in the quarter after back-to-back baskets from Dalton Rockwood (20 points).
Brookside Christian responded by outscoring the Grizzlies 14-6 the rest of the quarter to open up a 51-37 lead. Kameron Vales scored six of his 20 points during the spurt for the Knights.
The Grizzlies never quit.
Mariposa opened the fourth quarter with an 11-1 run to pull within 52-48 with 5:49 left. Rockwood scored nine points during the run as he attacked the basket and got out in transition.
“We didn’t get to show what we’re capable of tonight,” Brookside Christian coach Adam Lichter said. “We’ve got a lot more practicing to do.”
The Grizzlies scratched and clawed their way back into the game against a team loaded with more athletes and size, but couldn’t ever pull even.
Battles scored to pull Mariposa within 54-51 with 4:45 left, but Da’vion Barlow (19 points) answered with back-to-back baskets to push the lead back up to 58-51.
Despite a 25-point fourth quarter, the Grizzlies never were able to get the lead back under four points the rest of the way as Brookside Christian earned a trip to Sleep Train Arena for the section title game against No. 4 Elliot Christian on Friday.
“There’s no quit in this team,” said Edmiston, whose team will advance to the NorCal playoffs next week. “We’ve been doing it all year long. We find a way to get it done. They play with each other. They’re just great young men and they showed it on the court tonight.”