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Mt. Carmel a surprise co-champ in Palomar

02/15/2013, 10:52pm PST
By John Maffei

Sundevils win first league championship since 1990.

What were you doing in 1990?

If you were a student at Mt. Carmel High, you were rooting the boys basketball team on to a league title and into the county finals.

That, however, was the last league title for the Sundevils — until Friday night when Mt. Carmel overcame a 12-point first-half deficit to beat Westview 53-47 and win a share of the Palomar League championship with Torrey Pines.

“Words can’t describe how I feel,” said Mt. Carmel senior Deion Alston, who led the Sundevils with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

“This is just the greatest feeling.

“To win a league championship against our biggest rival in their gym is just crazy.”

Mt. Carmel (17-12, 8-2) led 12-5 before Westview went on a 19-0 run to take a 24-12 lead. The Sundevils tied he game at 34 with 3:25 to play in the third quarter on an Alston jumper.

The game was tied or the lead changed hands nine times after that until a Charlie Smith baseline 3-pointer gave Mt. Carmel a 46-44 lead with 2:40 to play and Alston hit a jumper for a 49-44 lead.

“When we got down, I told the guys to do what we practiced,” said Mt. Carmel coach Chris Vitous. “Our shots started dropping and we got into their zone a little bit better.

“Plus, we played much better defense on Ryan Pineda. Boy, is he a good player.”

Pineda finished with 13 points to lead Westview (19-8, 6-4). Thomas Barajas added 12 points and Cody Williams 11. Andrew McWilliam finished with nine points and 11 rebounds.

Smith finished with 13 points and seven rebounds for Mt. Carmel and sophomore Mike Keegan had six points and 10 rebounds.

Keegan and the team’s other sophomores — Jon Mallak and Jaylen Jones — drew praise from Alston for their composure down the stretch.

“Everyone picked us to finish at the bottom of the league,” Vitous said. “We’re so young, so I understand that. We only had one returning letterman. But this is a great group, the most-understanding group I’ve coached.

“Honestly, it’s good to have good players, but it’s even better when you have good kids, too.”

In the girls game, Westview completed a 10-0 Palomar League season, beating Mt. Carmel 62-48. Jamie

Legasi led the Wolverines (24-3) with 19 points. Ty Wheetley-Amaya scored 12 points and went over the

1,000-point mark for her career. Ali Englehardt had 28 points for Mt. Carmel.

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