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King Banishes Royals in 74-44 Drubbing

After magical season, Channel League runners-up run into trouble in second round of playoffs.

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With an 8-4 lead, San Marcos looked for a moment like it might survive its second-round CIF test against top-seeded Riverside King.

But only for a moment.

When it was all said and done, King dominated, 74-44, abruptly ending the Royals’ magical season.

As San Marcos had balls stolen, rebounds ripped away and shots clanking off the rim, King took firm control. The visitors erased the early deficit, established a 12-8 lead, and then extended the margin to 31-16 by halftime.

Royals coach Jarrod Bradley said it best.

“They were quicker to the ball, faster to the ball, and stronger to the ball," he said. "That‘s about it.”

The Royals’ outside shooting, which had powered a big first-round CIF win over Leuzinger, was smothered by the aggressive King defense. And as San Marcos pressed to shoot its way back into the game, the shots just kept missing.

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“The key for us,” King coach Tim Sweeney said, “was to pressure the ball and force their shooters to put the ball on the floor. They have a lot of guys that can hurt you if you let them get looks.”

Both Nick Marquez and Brian Pearson, who had each splashed four three-pointers in the last game, came up scoreless in the first half. Only Scott Moll and Frank Nordin could muscle it inside and find any offense at all.

King’s quickness in the backcourt was highlighted by George Fields and Xavier Muldrow, a slight pair of 5-foot-10 flashes who stole whatever they wanted from San Marcos guards.

“That (Trevor) Hopkins is a very solid ball handler,“ Sweeney said of San Marcos‘ talented senior point man. “When they took him out we turned up the pressure out front and they turned it over repeatedly.”

Inside, King enjoyed an even more pronounced advantage. Two big boys, 6-foot-7 Kawhi Leonard (12 points) and 6-foot-6 Eric Wise (19) dominated the boards, both offensive and defensive. If shooters missed, invariably one of them would follow with overpowering rebounds and powerful put backs.

King never relented, and pushed its advantage to a clean 30+ margin by the fourth quarter.

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Marquez and Pearson each hit threes late, but the inability to stop the King inside presence on the boards disabled any Royals comeback.

Hopkins led the Royals with 10 points. Moll had nine and Nordin six, but Marquez (six) and Pearson (three) just could not find their stroke against the Wolves’ tough defense.

San Marcos, the Channel League runner-up, had a proud season to celebrate, attaining goals and playing up to its capacity nearly every game.

But there are many levels of talent and competition, and the Royals ran into one of the clearest examples of just how big, fast and tough a high school team can get. The 74-44 final score was solid testimony.

It was no accident that King reigned.

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