Saints #11 Brynton Lemar eludes the defense of Leuzinger #0 Da Von Abner in the first half.
SAN DIEGO They have gone from not even knowing each other just two years ago to becoming the Dynamic Duo.
In the second half of the boys basketball season, 6-foot-3 senior guard Brynton Lemar and 6-4 junior guard Trey Kell from St. Augustine High have become perhaps the best tandem in the San Diego Section.
“If there is another one that’s better, I haven’t seen them,’’ said Saints coach Mike Haupt, who was the section’s co-player of the year in 1984 at Mira Mesa.
Lemar and Kell have one last game to play as Saintsmen this season.
On Friday, the duo leads St. Augustine, the Southern California Regional champion thanks to a fourth-quarter rally in the regional finals, into the State Division III championship game against Northern California Regional champion San Francisco Sacred Heart Cathedral at 4 p.m. at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.
And while teammates like forward Brent Jones, point guard Nate Samaniego and center Drew Madsen, whose two free throws in the finals seconds of Saturday’s regional clinching 61-57 win over West Hills Chaminade put Saints (28-4) into the state finals for the second time in school history, have had a hand in the team’s march to the finals, Lemar and Kell have been the driving force.
In the section finals against rival Cathedral Catholic, the Duo was amazing. After three losses this season to the rival Dons, the Saints unleashed their Duo for 45 points and 23 rebounds in a 62-36 thumping at Viejas Arena.
Lemar led the way with 23 points and 12 rebounds while Kell had 22 points and 11 rebounds.
Ten days later in the Southern California Regional semifinals, it was Kell who triggered a fourth-quarter outburst that led to a 55-45 victory. Kell scored 14 points in that quarter as the Saints outscored the Dons 25-13 in the stanza.
Last Saturday in the regional finals, it was Lemar’s turn. His 12 points in the fourth quarter triggered a 21-6 surge that wiped out an 11-point lead to earn their trip to face the Fightin’ Irish (21-11), whose tallest player is 6-2.
“I’ve seen those two do things like that so often, it’s sort of become the norm,’’ Haupt said. “The last two games against Cathedral and the regional final, you watch those guys and appreciate what they can do under those circumstances.
“You either have that ability to shine in those moments or you don’t. They have something inside them that allows them to do this.’’
Kell recalls the first time he met Lemar. He was on the freshman team while Lemar was on the varsity. Being a bit shy, Kell was hesitant to say anything to Lemar.
But on the court, Kell and Lemar were magical right from the outset.
“We meshed like we’d been playing together for years,’’ said Lemar, who signed to play next year at UC San Diego. “We play travel ball together, so we know each other pretty well.
“Trey is a shooter. I’m more of a point guard who likes going to the basket. I’m more of a bully with the ball.’’
No matter what the formula is, it’s working for the Purple Gang. Led by the Dynamic Duo, Saints has won 13 consecutive games heading into their second trip to the state finals.
St. Augustine dropped that first game in 2005 to Santa Cruz.
“Brynton and I know we have to play well for us to win,’’ Kell said. “It’s whoever has the hot hand and we’ve played together for so long we can tell who is going off.
“We both want to be successful. We don’t care who gets more of the shine as long as we win.
“If one of us scores 30 and we lose, that’s not fine. We’d rather do whatever it takes to win.’’
That would make Saintsmen everywhere happy too.