Mkpado leads Royals to low-scoring win

A score of 28-24 at halftime would signal a low-scoring high school boys basketball game. Well, that was the lead San Marcos had over host Dos Pueblos after three quarters on Friday night, and the Royals ended up with a crucial 47-40 Channel League win in front of a capacity crowd at Sovine Gym.

With jump shots simply not falling, buckets in the paint became all-important and Royals big man Christian Mkpado delivered. With fellow starting forward Thayer White on the bench nursing an ankle injury, the 6-5 senior center scored 19 points on 6-for-9 shooting, also making seven of nine free-throw attempts.

“He was an absolute horse tonight,” said coach Jarrod Bradley. “He missed quite a few free throws last time we played DP and I know he hadn’t forgotten that.”

The Chargers never had the lead in their own gym, and their home rims weren’t very friendly in allowing just two of 15 3-point attempts to fall through. Jay Larinan hit one of those treys and had his mid-range game working early en route to 14 points, but he was whistled for his third foul in the opening moments of the second half and had to sit.

“We need to get to the basket, get to free-throw line and attack that zone a little better,” said DP coach Joe Zamora. “In a big environment like this where it’s loud, you want that senior leader you can go to… We definitely wanted him out there for those minutes.”

San Marcos jumped out to a 6-0 lead before Larinan broke DP’s ice with a free throw over five minutes into the game. A trey by Chad Ridenour gave the Royals a 9-5 lead heading into the second quarter. Larinan scored four points in the first 41 seconds of the second quarter to tie the score, but Mkpado would heat up and score the final seven points of the half for either time. The final two points came on free throws after he was fouled by Larinan on a last-second halfcourt heave at the buzzer, awarding him three attempts at the charity stripe.

Mkpado drove the baseline for a lay-up with 2:30 left in the third quarter to give the Royals their biggest lead of the game at 28-15. The home crowd, however, revved up once again as the Chargers scored seven points in the final 1:10 of the period, capped on a Robert Cid steal and lay-up to close the gap to 28-22. Cid would get his own rebound and lay it in with seven minutes to go in the game to cut the San Marcos advantage to 30-26, but the Chargers would get no closer.

The Royals (15-8, 3-5) and Chargers are now tied for third in the Channel League at 3-5, and will meet one more time to wrap up the season. DP hosts first-place Ventura on Wednesday night.

SAN MARCOS 47, DOS PUEBLOS 40

SAN MARCOS — Manzo 7, Nahmias 6, Hempy 2, Mkpado 19, Ridenour 10, Vasquez 3. Totals 13 18-23 47.

DOS PUEBLOS — Conner 2, Miranda 2, Cid 7, Larinan 14, Williams 3, Burke 2, Gomez 10. Totals 14 9-14 40.

San Marcos…9  9  10  19 — 47

Dos Pueblos…5  6  11  18 — 40

3-point goals — SM 3 (Ridenour 2, Vasquez), DP 2 (Larinan, Williams). Total fouls — SM 13, DP 18. Fouled out — None. Technicals — None.

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