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San Marcos’ Streak Ends at 11

Santa Monica turns back Royals in Holiday Classic, 50-43. Santa Barbara, Dos Pueblos win but Bishop Diego falters.

San Marcos’ forgettable first half was almost erased by a memorable finish Friday night in the semi-final of the Santa Barbara Holiday Classic, but defending champ Santa Monica held just tough enough to win, 50-43.

Again it was Santa Monica’s pressure free-throw shooting and the leadership of 6-foot-2-inch senior Edward Willis that staved off the Royals, who closed to within four with 4:30 left.

Santa Monica had led 31-17 at halftime and the Royals were lucky to be that close after hitting only two shots in the first quarter. But the spirit that had carried San Marcos to two previous tournament titles and an 11-game winning streak flourished anew in the third period.

Nick Marquez (13 points) heated up from beyond the arc, Frank Nordin (nine points) scored repeatedly in the paint and Brian Pearson put in a pair underneath to narrow the margin to 42-38 with more than four minutes remaining.

Willis took a powerful move to the bucket, for two of his 22 points, to get Samohi back in some control, but the Royals had the momentum. Trevor Hopkins (13) drove and scored to close again to four points.

But free throws told the rest of the tale. Misses by San Marcos in the fourth quarter were costly, and clutch conversions by Justin Maxwell (11 points) extended Santa Monica’s lead to 49-43 — and the Royals never scored again.

Santa Monica coach James Hecht said Willis has had similar dominant performances this season, but this was one of his very best.

“His on-court performance — his leadership and effort was just the kind of game we needed," he said. "He’s a hard working kid who wants to win.”

Willis was all smiles after the Vikings’ victory.

“I love this type of game,” he said. “The playoff atmosphere and the crowd just make it fun to play.”

San Marcos and its host of fans had considerably less fun, but Saturday the Royals have a chance to bounce back against Corona del Mar at 7 p.m. in the game for third place in the 16-team tournament. Santa Monica meets Upland for the championship at 8 p.m. Both games are at Santa Barbara High.

Earlier on Friday, Roberto Nelson scored 32 as Santa Barbara bested Costa Mesa, 87-54. Santa Barbara will close out play at 11:30 a.m. Saturday against Burroughs.

Dos Pueblos beat Agoura, 50-45, behind another strong night by Sean Park’s 21 points and 12 boards. The Chargers will try to win the consolation bracket final against Mira Costa at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

Bishop Diego lost to South Pasadena, 67-43, but will try to turn it around against Costa Mesa at noon Saturday at San Marcos High.

Day 3 Scores

Burroughs 71, Curtis 60
Dos Pueblos 50, Agoura Hills 45
Mira Costa 62, Saugus 61
Oxnard 63, Venice 62
Pacific Palisades 79, Clovis West 74
Santa Barbara 87, Costa Mesa 54
Santa Monica 50, San Marcos 43
Upland 51, Corona del Mar 46

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