Chargers leave Thunderhut with 45-42 win

Dos Pueblos guard Robert Cid owed his girlfriend a big smooch after Wednesday night’s basketball game at San Marcos.

The Royals, meanwhile, just needed a hug.

Cid scored a team-high 11 points and thought of his sweetheart while sinking two big free throws in the final seconds to lift the visiting Chargers to a 45-42 win over the defending Channel League champs. Cid had missed missed his two previous free throws — both in the final two minutes of the game, before stepping to the line with his team up 43-42 and nine seconds on the clock.

“After I missed the first two, (Coach Joe Zamora) called me over and he said, you know, ‘Like we say in practice, you’re out there at the line and your girlfriend’s out there screaming for you,’ and it motivated me a little bit,” said Cid. “I walked to the line with a little bit more swagger.”

San Marcos, which came into the contest shooting 70-percent from the charity stripe, had an abysmal 10-for-24 night from the line in front of a big home crowd.

“We just didn’t perform well tonight on a big stage,” said coach Jarrod Bradley. “We were a little bit nervous and I think we played afraid to lose… If we make our average in free throws, we win this game by five or six.”

Chad Ridenour led the Royals with 12 points and hit the only two 3-pointers on the night for either team. The offenses struggled from the beginning, as DP led 8-4 at the end of the first quarter.

Jay Larinan had 12 rebounds, four blocks and 10 points for the Chargers and was battling with San Marcos big-man Christian Mkpado, who scored 10 points, all evening. Jackson Burke found a rhythm on baseline jumpers and nailed three big ones in the final four minutes. The first two were to break ties, and the third was to give DP a 43-39 edge with 2:15 to go. The forward is more known for throwing his weight around in the paint, but Cid was certainly happy to see him stroke a few shots.

“Those were the biggest baskets,” said Cid, who gave Burke a big hug after the game. “He was out pretty far too. He’s not really a jump-shooter, but he came up big for us tonight.”

Ridenour hit a big 3-pointer with 43 seconds left that pulled the Royals within a point at 43-42. Cid was fouled and sent to the line with 13 seconds to go, but missed the front end of the one-and-one. There was a struggle for the ball on the ensuing rebound, and it ended up as a jump ball in the Chargers’ favor. San Marcos was forced to foul and Cid went to the line for his redemption shots.

Mansai Conner had 11 rebounds, including four on the offensive side, and DP stayed calm in the raucous environment, making 11 of 16 free throws. The Royals lost their cool on two separate occasions and were assessed technical fouls as a result. Pablo Miranda made all four of the free throws resulting from the technicals. The teams were never separated by more than eight points on the night.

The Chargers (8-7, 2-2) play at Mira Mesa on Saturday before hosting Santa Barbara on Wednesday. DP has yet to win a home game. San Marcos (13-4, 2-2), meanwhile, plays at Buena on Wednesday.