Senior night was spoiled for the Sunny Hills boys basketball team when they fell to La Habra and were subsequently forced into a one-game playoff for a CIF berth, on Friday they got payback and much more when they defeated the Highlanders 64-53 at Troy High School.
Lancer seniors Ryan Shaw and Jacob Dibble put up big performances to send Sunny Hills into the CIF playoffs and likely end the Highlanders season.
Shaw led the way for the Lancers (17-12, 5-5) scoring six of their 12 points in the quarter including the last for points of the quarter.
In a quarter where both teams had trouble converting from the field the Highlanders (11-16, 5-5) sole scorer was Senior Devin Howlin who had seven points.
Howlin’s offensive efforts led to La Habra only being down by five going into the second quarter.
The Senior opened the second quarter by adding another two points to his tally and Senior Chris Breen added a two of his own to cut the Lancers lead to one, but the Lancers quickly responded.
In a matter of minutes if not moments after four consecutive points by the Highlanders the Lancers took over the offensive paint through Dibble.
Behind four straight baskets in the paint by Dibble in the paint the Lancers went on a 9-0 run to go up by 10 with five minutes left in the half.
After Dibbles nine unanswered points Howlin responded with another 2-point basket for the Highlanders to cut the Lancers lead to single digits.
The Lancers didn’t take their lead being cut back down to single digits lightly and widened the gap through converting from 3-point range.
A 3-point basket by Jungsoo Kim gave the Lancers a double-digit lead once more and two 3-point conversions from Senior Sam Barrera down the stretch helped increase the lead to 14 in the final minutes of the half.
The third quarter saw both teams match each others’ baskets and by doing so keeping the double digit gap in place.
Though the Highlanders got to the free throw line consistently, they did themselves no favors by missing six free throws in the quarter.
Shaw added four points in the quarter to help the Lancers stay ahead while Senior Luke Ross had his biggest quarter of the game with six points.
The fourth started with the Highlanders, with perhaps their season on the line, pressing high up the court defensively, Forcing turnovers and outscoring Sunny Hills 5-2 in the early minutes of the quarter to cut their lead down to nine.
In what was almost a repeat of the first quarter both teams went scoreless for around two minutes in the quarter.
Even after a 2-pointer by Howlin, who finished what could possibly be his last game as a Highlander with 23 points, neither team was constantly scoring until the final three minutes of the one game playoff.
The Highlanders looked to be on the verge of a comeback when two straight baskets off steals led to the Lancers lead being cut down to five.
With La Habra building momentum Shaw stepped up for the Lancers and converted three free throws after two trips to the line to make the lead eight.
As the final minute of the game neared La Habra attempted to mount a quick comeback through offensive play beyond the arc but could not get anything to fall for them before the Lancers grew their lead again.
Fittingly, La Habras leading season scorer Howlin scored what could very well be the Highlanders last basket of the season when he drained a 3-pointer in the final moments of the game.
A free throw by Shaw, who led the Lancers with 19 points on the night, to put the Lancers up by 10 with 18.5 seconds left put the game out of the Highlanders reach and sealed the third and final automatic Freeway League spot in CIF for Sunny Hills.
“Its tough to play two games in a row like that and have the energy so our shots didn’t fall, but I’m looking more at the whole year then just this game tonight,” and “the accomplishments we had,” said Highlanders Head Coach Dave Plooth.
The Highlanders have filed a petition to receive an at-large bid into CIF but the chances it will be granted are slim and their losing record makes it very hard for them to receive an at-large bid if the petition is not granted.
“We were fired up ready to go, this is it for them we wanted to end their season” and “get revenge on them,” Dibble said.
“I was proud of our guys today and I think this is something good for us going into playoffs,” said Lancers Head Coach Joe Ok About the win, which broke the team’s three game losing streak, and later added that “energy level and execution,” were the biggest differences from Thursday’s matchup.
Sunny Hills will find out who they play in the first round of CIF Southern Section playoffs when the brackets are released on Sunday. La Habra is looking to be granted an at-large bid.