The Lancers dropped their third game in a row and now have to play in a one game Freeway League playoff to clinch a guaranteed place in the Southern Section CIF playoffs after falling to La Habra 62-51.
Though they ultimately lost, four straight points by Ryan Shaw helped the Lancers start the game on an 8-2 run.
Devin Howlin responded for the Highlanders with five straight points to cut the Lancers early lead to one.
After Howlin’s run the teams traded baskets for the rest of the quarter and went into the second quarter still separated by one.
Like at the start of the game, Sunny Hills (16-12, 5-5) started the second quarter strongly and on a 5-0 run to go up 20-14.
The Lancers six point lead did not last long.
Back-to-back 3-point conversions by La Habra sparked an 11-0 run which made a six point deficit for the Highlanders a five point lead.
The Raiders (11-15, 5-5) could not run away with the game just yet.
With the lead gone and momentum quickly shifting Sunny Hills Seniors Shaw and Sam Barrera scored six of the team’s last seven points of the second quarter to make it possible for the game to be tied at 27-27 at the half.
La Habra held the Lancers scoreless for an extended period of time again in the third quarter.
Near the midway point of the quarter Sunny Hills went cold from the field and was hard-pressed to make shots from inside the paint.
The Highlanders took advantage of the Lancers offensive troubles through Howlin, who scored five straight points including a 3-point basket, to put them up by seven in the final minutes of the quarter.
The Highlanders latest run was snapped when Jacob Dibble ended the Lancers offensive struggles when he scored four straight points to cut La Habra’s lead to three entering the fourth.
Dibble,who ended the game with 8 points, continued his good form in the early moments of the final quarter by scoring the Lancers first four points in the quarter from inside the paint.
Through Dibbles offensive play the Lancers cut the Highlanders lead to one with just under seven minutes left, but that was as close as they would get to retaking the lead.
Soon after Dibble cut their lead to one the Highlanders caught fire from the field and the Lancers shooting form deteriorated.
Four points each from La Habra Seniors Dave Peppard, who ended the game with 17 points, and Nick Vega propelled an 8-0 run by the Highlanders to go up by nine with under five minutes left.
The Lancers efforts to end the Highlanders run were hampered by turnovers and misses of shots from all over the field.
The Highlanders shut down Lancer comeback hopes in the final minutes of the game through running down the shot clock and getting multiple offensive boards.
With under a minute left the Barrera, who scored 20 points in the game, made what was just the second three-point basket in the game for the Lancers.
As the clock struck zero it confirmed that the Lancers and Raiders will meet an extra time to determine the guaranteed CIF playoff spot given to third place in the Freeway League.
“Our defense was bad, our defense was not good we usually play better. Today was just a slip up,” Barrera said, and later added “we just gotta pick each other up start playing better, sharing the ball, not doing like our own thing.”
“We played our style of basketball not theirs,” Howlin,who finished with 17 points, said about the win.
Sunny Hills and La Habra will face each other with a guaranteed CIF playoff spot on the line on Friday at Troy High School at 4:30 pm.