Mkpado, Manzo lead Royals to playoff berth

Christian Mkpado and Johnny Manzo combined for 35 points and 21 rebounds on Thursday night at the Thunderhut as the San Marcos basketball team never trailed visiting Dos Pueblos, picking up a 57-50 win to earn an automatic playoff berth.

Mkpado, who finished with 21 points and 14 boards, was a bulldozer down low. He scored the Royals’ first three baskets while Manzo had an assist, a steal and a pair of lay-ups in the opening quarter.

“Christian has been playing so well lately, and I think that teams are really sucking in on him,” said Manzo. “That kind of allowed me to find seams.”

Dos Pueblos got 14 points, nine rebounds and four steals from Jay Larinan, but had a rough night shooting, particularly from beyond the arc. The Chargers made just one of their 19 3-point attempts. Despite the loss, coach Joe Zamora is confident that the team will make the playoffs.

“We’re just gonna have to do a better job against the zone and know that we aren’t the best 3-point shooting team. We’re gonna have to defend,” he said. “But my kids battled, and you saw towards the end that they don’t give up.”

A pair of free throws by Kevin Vasquez (10 points) gave the hosts a healthy 52-39 lead with just 78 ticks left on the clock. Bradley cleared his bench, but the Chargers (12-12, 5-7 Channel League) would get a 3-point play from Larinan and a 4-point play from Robert Cid. The Royals (17-9, 6-6 Channel League) lead was just 56-50 after Pablo Miranda made a lay-up with 20 seconds to go and then got a steal on the inbounds pass. A shot from beyond-the-arc with 10 seconds to go would have made it a 3-point game, but it wouldn’t fall.

San Marcos had a 20-15 lead at halftime and saw it grow to 11 thanks to two big threes from Vasquez, the second which made it 34-23 with 3:20 left in the third. The biggest lead of the game came with 5:25 on the clock in the fourth, as a Mkpado free throw pushed the advantage to 45-30.

“It was the biggest game of the season… We had identical records in league, and right now we had great senior leadership,” said Royals coach Jarrod Bradley. “I’m really proud of Johnny and Christian.”

Playoff seedings will be announced on Sunday afternoon. Check for all playoff-related news.


DOS PUEBLOS — Conner 6, Miranda 10, Cid 8, Larinan 14, Williams 2, Gomez 8, Burke 2. Totals 20 9-17 50.

SAN MARCOS — Mkpado 21, Manzo 14, Mann 1, Hempy 3, Vasquez 10, Johnson 1, White 3. Totals 18 14-23 57.

Dos Pueblos…5  10  13  22 — 50

San Marcos…12  8  18  19 — 57

3-point goals — DP 1 (Cid), SM 2 (Vasquez 2). Total fouls — DP 23, SM 13. Fouled out — Manzo.

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