BBK: Royals come up short in 3AA quarterfinals


San Marcos played a stellar defensive basketball game against a taller Diamond Ranch, holding the visiting Panthers to one point in the second quarter and under 40 for the game in Tuesday’s CIF Division 3AA quarterfinal.

But the Royals couldn’t come up with the big shot in the final seconds and saw their season come to an end in a heartbreaking 39-36 defeat at the Thunderhut.

Down 38-36 after a Connor Everman bank shot with 26 seconds left, Tyson Miller and Ryan McCarthy forced the Panthers into a turnover on the inbound pass. The Royals worked the ball against tight defensive pressure, and Scott Everman drove the lane and kicked it out to Tyson Miller for an open 3-pointer from the corner. The ball rattled off the rim and was knocked out of bounds by the Royals.

Scott Everman looks to score while being pressured by a Diamond Ranch defender. Everman led the Royals with 11 points.

Scott Everman looks to score while being pressured by a Diamond Ranch defender. Everman led the Royals with 11 points.

Diamond Ranch threw the inbound pass to its 7-foot center Roman Silva and he was immediately fouled. With the Panthers in the double bonus, Silva made the second free throw to put them up by three, 39-36.

San Marcos quickly inbounded the ball to McCarthy and he hustled up the left sideline before being fouled with 2.2 seconds left. It was only the sixth team foul against Diamond Ranch. Connor Everman took the ball out and tried to get it past the towering Silva. The big center knocked his pass out of bounds. With 1.6 seconds left, Connor Everman tried again and successfully got it to his brother Scott, who fired and missed a desperation 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded.

“We fought as hard as we can,” San Marcos coach Landon Boucher said.”We were down seven in the fourth quarter and battled back and had a chance to win it. If somebody would have asked me at the beginning of the season if you could advance to the semifinals with a Tyson Miller open three, I would have took it. It just didn’t go.”

It was a tough way to end the season for the Royals, who held Diamond Ranch to just one point in the second quarter and led 23-12 at the start of the third quarter.

“Not only to hold them to one but to fight through and find a way to score on our end, it was pretty impressive the boys were able to do that,” said Boucher.

The team suffered a big blow in the third quarter when center Kele Mkpado picked up his fourth foul with 3:17 to go. Mkpado did a tremendous job guarding Silva and screening him off the boards. The Panthers were getting only one shot in the first half.

Scott Everman drives to the basket against Diamond Ranch's 7-foot center Roman Silva.

Connor Everman drives to the basket against Diamond Ranch’s 7-foot center Roman Silva.

“Words can’t describe,” Boucher said of Mkpado picking up his fourth foul. “Talk about an Achilles heel.”

When Mkpado went to the bench, Diamond Ranch went on a 7-0 run. The big shot was a 3-pointer by Dean Waltz off the bench with 2 seconds left. That tied the score at 23-all.

The shooting of Waltz was sweet music to the Panthers in the second half. He buried back-to-back treys to start the fourth quarter, giving them a 29-26 lead. It was a lead they would never give up.

“He has that type of ability,” Diamond Ranch coach Eric Cooper said. “In the first half, he missed a couple; he was a little tight. But I knew if I put him in that situation he’d come through. He’s been doing it all season.”

Cooper said his team went to a triangle-and-two defense in the second half to shut down Scott Everman and McCarthy.

“We had to go to a triangle-and-two and try to stop those kids from scoring and play 3 on 3. That’s kind of what it was, 3 on 3,” he said.

It worked as the Royals managed only two points in the quarter.

“The third quarter was where it was lost,” Boucher said. “I feel like the boys did a good job executing our defensive game plan, but when fatigue kicks in sometimes you lose the shooter. (Waltz) was their only shooter and we knew that going in but we just lost him a few times. That was the difference. (Waltz) hurt us.”

Diamond Ranch extended its lead to eight (38-30) when guard Tyler McLean converted a three-point play with 2:24 left in the fourth quarter.

Mkpado tried to rally the Royals. He scored back-to-back baskets and drew a charging foul. Down by four, San Marcos got a good look from behind the arc but the ball wouldn’t drop.

Scott Everman led the Royals (21-10) with 11 points and McCarthy added eight points. Silva scored 10 points and Waltz had nine to lead Diamond Ranch (20-8).