Brian Pearson’s 16-point first half lit up the Thunderhut and turned out the lights early for Leuzinger, visiting from Lawndale, in San Marcos’ 61-51 win in the first round of the 2008 CIF Boys Basketball Championship.
Pearson’s teammate, Nick Marquez, joined in the fun, starting the second quarter with three quick three-pointers, to go with another by Pearson, and turning a 13-19 deficit into a 25-19 Royals’ lead that was never threatened.
“Those two (Marquez and Pearson) are number one and two in the county in three-point baskets and percentage,” a beaming Royals head coach Jarrod Bradley said. “That’s our strength and they were fantastic tonight.”
Each ended up with four threes, and both supplemented those points with some nice drives and midrange productivity as well. Marquez led all scorers with 18 for the game.
Leuzinger’s talented 6-foot-7-inch post man, DeShaun Freeman, went toe to toe with San Marcos’ 6-foot-6 Swedish import, Frank Nordin. While Freeman had some impressive blocks, rebounds and offensive putbacks, Nordin outscored him 13-10 and never gave an inch on defense.
“It was like playing in Europe again,” Nordin said. “I play in adult leagues there, and he was like a big adult. I just tried to force him out to the perimeter, and when he bumped me I stayed strong and fought back.”
Leuzinger coach Reggie Morris praised the Royals.
“We have to try and score on our press and our defensive pressure, and it worked for a while,” he said. “But they are to be commended, they handled it. It’s not what we didn’t do, it’s what they did, and that’s hit shots.”
Those shots gave San Marcos a 12-point halftime lead, and extended it to a comfortable 20-point cushion with four minutes left in the game. The Royals protected it with some nice ball handling and wise clock management.
Cameron Bell led Leuzinger in scoring with 13, including two conventional three-pointers and one last-second prayer from well beyond half-court with no time remaining, to end the game.
“Trevor (Hopkins) did a great job of getting the ball to our hot shooters,” Bradley said. “And he handled their press beautifully. I couldn’t be prouder of all five starters … and our bench, too. Taylor Gilkeson was amazing tonight, and Chris Vines made some spectacular rebounds. He only plays about 10 or 12 minutes a game and he for sure leads our team in rebounds per minute. He has embraced his role so well … it’s just fantastic.”
The whole night was fantastic for the Royals and the packed Thunderhut crowd.
A coin flip will determine where Tuesday’s second-round game will be played. And although the Royals’ opponent was still up in the air late Friday, San Marcos spirits were even higher.