A heartbreaking loss to Santa Barbara at the buzzer in the first installment of the crosstown rivalry didn’t sit well with the San Marcos High boys basketball team, but the Royals made amends with a 47-44 victory in the rematch Saturday night at the Sports Pavilion.
Physical defense and hot-shooting by senior forward Tommy Condon made the difference, as San Marcos climbed into a first-place tie with Santa Barbara in the Channel League with the victory.
“That’s a huge win for (Channel) League. That’s a huge win going into CIF and it’s always good beating them,” said San Marcos head coach Jelani Hicks of his first victory over Santa Barbara.
The San Marcos victory would not have been possible if it were not for Condon, who poured in all 15 of his points in the second half, including a trio of three-pointers and two clutch free throws with four seconds remaining.
“I knew once I hit the first one that I was going to hit some more so I always have the confidence,” Condon said. “It feels amazing. I’ve wanted to do this ever since I got into high school. We finally did it and I’m on top of the world right now.”
Condon missed the entire non-league portion of the schedule with a stress fracture in his foot and was in danger of missing the entire season. His first game back was the first battle with Santa Barbara, but he is only now starting to find his groove and shake off the rust.
“I’ve been playing now for two weeks so I’ve shot a lot and I’ve got my stroke back,” said Condon, who was a key contributor for San Marcos last season as a junior.
The first half went back and forth, as San Marcos took a 19-18 lead into the locker room at halftime, after a fast-break layup by Tony Nija closed the first half scoring.
In the third quarter, Condon and Isaiah Hicks combined for 14 of San Marcos’ 16 points as the Royals carved out a 35-30 lead going into the final stanza.
Santa Barbara closed to within one point, 38-37, midway through the fourth quarter on a driving layup by Stephen Davis, but Hicks immediately responded with a nice finish at the rim, increasing the San Marcos lead to 40-37.
The Dons (14-8 overall, 5-1 Channel League) closed the gap to 40-39 on a nice pass inside from Davis to Warrecker, who converted a contested layup with 3:07 remaining in the game. Two Warrecker free throws gave Santa Barbara its first lead of the fourth quarter, 41-40, with 2:24 remaining.
However, on the ensuing San Marcos possession Condon drained his third and final three-pointer of the game to put the Royals back on top 43-41.
Santa Barbara was fouled and sent to the line twice in the final minute, but only converted one of four free throws. San Marcos’ John Connolly knocked down one of two free throws with 25.2 seconds remaining to give the Royals a 45-42.
A driving layup by Jasper Johnson with 6.4 seconds to play, cut the Santa Barbara deficit to 45-44. Condon was immediately fouled with four second remaining and converted both free throws, increasing the San Marcos lead to 47-44.
In the final sequence, the ball was inbounded to Warrecker at half court. He turned and found Jackson Gonzales just outside the three-point line. Gonzales’ attempt to tie the game was blocked by Connolly as the final buzzer sounded.
San Marcos improved to 13-9 overall and 5-1 in Channel League with the victory. Hicks finished with 14 points to form a dynamic scoring duo with Condon. Warrecker and Davis finished with 13 and 12 points respectively for Santa Barbara.