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Season ends with a standing ovation

03/11/2015, 11:07pm PDT
By Steve Brand, Special to the U-T

El Cajon Valley ousted from SoCal Regional playoffs, but crowd still cheers the team

El Cajon Valley's Syon Hicks (left) and Dion Dean are congratulated by fans and teammates for their winning season that produced the Braves' first San Diego Section basketball title.

— El Cajon Valley’s Braves accomplished a lot of firsts this year. Their first appearance in the section championships. Their first title, capturing Division III. But their first state playoff win will have to wait.

Having their worst shooting night of the season at the most inopportune time, the Braves fell to Newport Beach Corona del Mar 46-33 Wednesday in the opening round of the Division III Southern California Regional.

“We just didn’t make our shots,” said 6-foot-8 junior center Ronne Readus, who led the Braves with 12 points and 14 rebounds. “Part of it was good defense, but this game doesn’t take anything away from our accomplishments.”

Indeed, the Braves (25-7) achieved well beyond expectations and entered the fourth quarter down by just one point, 27-26, after making up all of an 11-0 run by the Sea Kings at the close of the first quarter.

But baskets were hard to come by, resulting in a season low for points. Down the stretch not only weren’t the shots falling, but the Braves missed five of six free throws. Conversely Corona del Mar (25-7) was making 11 of 11.

Only one Sea Kings player scored in double figures, but eight contributed.

The partisan crowd showed its appreciation as they gave the Braves a standing ovation while the clock wound down.

“I’ve always believed you play like you practice and we didn’t practice very well yesterday,” said Braves coach Marty Ellis. “But you’ll notice none of these kids have tears in their eyes. We’re excited about what they’ve done and they left it all out on the court.

“I’m so proud of these kids — this (season) was a lot of fun.”

Boys highlights

No. 10 San Marcos pulled off the upset of the night with a 60-57 road win over No. 7 Riverside J.W. North in Division I. The Knights will face No. 2 Chino Hills on Saturday.

In Division II, La Costa Canyon cruised to a 74-53 victory over visiting Rancho Santa Margarita Tesoro.

In Division V, host Army-Navy romped to a 91-52 triumph over Hesperia Christian.

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