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PREP BOYS BASKETBALL: Cal Lutheran staves off late rally, reach first section title game

03/04/2013, 1:12pm PST
By By MARK E. STRODER For The Californian

WILDOMAR — He had already buried seven 3-pointers, many of them from well beyond the required 20-foot distance.

WILDOMAR — He had already buried seven 3-pointers, many of them from well beyond the required 20-foot distance.

So when Hesperia Christian senior guard Trevor Hough released the possible game-tying shot from the right wing with seconds remaining, overtime seemed inevitable.

But Hough's open shot bounced off the rim, allowing the Cal Lutheran boys basketball team to escape with a 53-50 victory Friday night in the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division VI playoffs.

"I thought I hit it, actually. I thought it was in," said a tearful Hough, who finished with a game-high 23 points. "I've been working on my form all year. But it just didn't go."

The victory put the C-Hawks (20-3) into a section title game for the first time in school history. They will play the winner of Saturday night's semifinal game between Los Angeles Renaissance Academy and Los Angeles Adventist. The site and date of the championship game will be announced Monday.

"We thought at the beginning of the year that we could get to the championship game," C-Hawks coach Dave Peter said. "We just had to take it one step at a time."

The Patriots (23-7) clawed their way back from a 42-26 deficit with three minutes remaining in the third quarter. Hough scored 11 points, including three 3-pointers, to spark the rally.

"We started turning the ball over and rushing things," Cal Lutheran junior point guard Robert Riesenberg said. "We weren't playing our style of basketball."

Hough's 28-footer from the left wing cut the C-Hawks lead to 52-48 with 53 seconds remaining. With 18 seconds left and his team leading by three, Riesenberg missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw, setting up Hough's last-ditch effort.

"I was nervous on the free throw," admitted Riesenberg, who finished with a team-high 18 points, including four 3s. "I hadn't been shooting them well."

Cal Lutheran built its lead on the strength of Riesenberg's perimeter shooting and the post play of 6-foot-8 junior center Ryan Smith. Smith finished with 16 points, 16 rebounds and two blocked shots.

"When (Hough's) shot went up, I was thinking, 'Please don't let this game go into overtime,'" Smith said.

Peter said he reminded his team to treat Friday's game like any other.

"I told them before the game that we weren't here to make history," Peter said. "We're just here to play a game and win it. It will be the same thing for the next game."

The C-Hawks held a nine-point lead at halftime after the Patriots shot just 1-of-18 from the field in the second quarter.

But Hesperia Christian, which made 9-of-35 3-pointers, grabbed enough offensive rebounds in the second half to mount a comeback attempt.

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