San Ysidro’s Lynard Steward, who scored 35 points, drives past Montgomery defender Charles Crawford.
After three quarters, Montgomery High began its ascent from a 20-point deficit.
The Aztecs drew foul after foul, earning trips to the charity stripe while suspending the clock.
Soon, San Ysidro’s cushion evaporated to 16. Then 12. Then eight, placing host Montgomery within striking distance at the 3:47 mark behind 15 free throws.
Darrel Lard, however, had seen enough.
The Cougars’ sophomore forward converted three consecutive transition field goals to halt the Aztecs’ comeback as San Ysidro eased past Montgomery 83-71 Friday night.
The Cougars (14-14, 5-1) and Aztecs (16-12, 5-1) finished tied for the South Bay League boys basketball title. Montgomery won the first meeting between the teams.
“In the first matchup, we didn’t play San Ysidro basketball, partly because of the lack of experience and low number of players,” said San Ysidro coach Terry Tucker. “Tonight, we were able to cause havoc on the defensive end for four entire quarters.”
Junior guard Lynard Steward torched Montgomery for 35 points. Lard (18) and senior forward Orlando Quinones (16) chipped in a combined 34 points for the Cougars, who captured the South Bay League title last season.
“We pressured them into turnovers, which allowed us to create a number of easy scoring opportunities,” Steward said.
“Our team trusted in our ability, made smart decisions and took smart shots.”
Employing a press and trap defense, San Ysidro forced 23 turnovers that provided numerous transition buckets.
“In the first half, we went away from Lynard,” Tucker said. “In the second half, he took over. He scored running up and down the court in transition.”