Steele Canyon's Zach Kissel (shown in a game earlier this season) scored 14 points Friday night in the Cougars' win over Helix.
RANCHO SAN DIEGO — Steele Canyon High had already wrapped up the Grossmont Hills League boys basketball championship.
With the playoffs set to begin next week, Friday’s game against visiting Helix was mostly for seeding purposes — and maybe some revenge.
The Cougars finished 9-1 in league play and 20-6 overall after edging the Highlanders 34-31 in a defensive battle. Steele Canyon’s only league loss was last month to Helix (16-12, 6-4).
“Our goal this year was to go 10-0, but Helix kept us from doing that,” said guard Zach Kissel, who led the Cougars with 14 points. “So we definitely wanted revenge in this game. We didn’t want them to sweep us.”
Steele Canyon is looking at a top-four seed in the playoffs. The Cougars entered the game at No. 3 in the power rankings for Division II, and the win over the Highlanders certainly won’t hurt.
“Any time you beat Helix you know you’re going to be in for a physical battle,” said Kissel. “And that’s what it was.
“Another incentive for us — this is our Senior Night and we didn’t want them to spoil it.”
Helix never led but tied the game 28-28 in the first minute of the fourth quarter.
Then Kissel took over. He scored four of his team’s six points in the last quarter, including the go-ahead basket, and put the game away with two free throws.
Christian Bell led Helix with 11 points.
“I’ve been playing against Bell for four years, and he’s about as tough as there is, defensively,” Kissel said. “In fact their whole team is pretty darn tough when it comes to playing defense.”
Helix entered Friday’s regular-season finale at No. 5 in the power rankings for Division I.