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Division III: Komets salute fallen friend

03/07/2014, 7:02pm PST
By Steve Brand, Special to the U-T

Kearny players dedicate championship season to former teammate who was murdered

Kearny's David Moa (center) and teammates savor the Komets' championship win over Sweetwater.

Richi, this one was for you.

Kearny High dedicated this basketball season to Richi Knight, a Komets player who a little less than a year ago was murdered.

The highly motivated Komets rode a career game by David Moa to stun previously unbeaten Sweetwater 73-58 capturing the San Diego Section Division III championship Friday at USD’s Jenny Craig Pavilion.

It was Kearny’s 19th straight win and its first title since 1979.

“Richi was my friend, a brother,” said Moa, a solid 6-foot-4 post man who collected season highs of 19 points and 18 rebounds. “We dedicated this season to him.”

Moa let the smaller Red Devils know they would have their hands full if they attacked the middle when he collected a monster block in the first quarter.

It didn’t get much better for Sweetwater (28-1), which hit on only 34.5 percent of its shots, including just 2 of 16 from beyond the 3-point line.

“I thought we had the athleticism and size,” said Komets coach Carl Bronson. “Moa owned the game and when we were down, the crowd brought us back. The community has been fantastic.”

The Komets (24-2) can look ahead to the Southern California Regionals knowing they could beat one of the best teams in the county with depth.

Supporting Moa were Austin Knox (16 points), Takoda Browne (11) and Xavier Browne (10).

Xavier Browne, who suffered a shoulder injury, hit back-to-back 3-point field goals early in the third quarter, giving Kearny a 39-33 lead. Though Sweetwater kept it close by forcing 29 turnovers, the Komets made all of the key plays.

Spencer Mattox led the Red Devils with 19 points, but he missed all five of his 3-pointers.

“Give them credit,” said Sweetwater coach Jesse Aguirre. “It was their day.”

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