San Marcos guard Waytt Miller caught fire in the first quarter. | Credit: ENTENZA

A strong start to the fourth quarter by Rio Mesa erased the San Marcos lead, and the Royals were unable to regain control down the stretch of a 47-43 Channel League loss on Friday night at the Thunderhut.

The visiting Spartans outscored San Marcos 19-8 in the fourth quarter and took their first lead of the game with two free throws at the 4:59 mark of the fourth quarter.

“I think we did it on the defensive end,” said Rio Mesa coach Kevin Kiech. “We missed some easy shots at the beginning and started finishing after we played some good defense.”

Rio Mesa’s 6’5” forward David Williams led all scorers with 17 points. San Marcos did not have anyone taller than 6’2” available as their primary bigs Jack Wilson and Micah Jacoby were out of the lineup.

“Our front line is six-foot. It’s not an excuse though because we’re fast, we’re intense and we’re fiery,” said San Marcos coach James Kinzler. “It was a game of runs we came out hot, kind of like we did against Dos Pueblos. We’ve got to work on the second quarter.”

The Royals jumped out to a 14-4 lead to start the game behind three three-pointers by Wyatt Miller, who finished with a team-high 14 points. 

The Spartans responded with a 6-2 run capped off by a basket inside by Kamden Kiech that cut their deficit to 16-10. However, San Marcos closed the quarter with a layup by Owen Lauderdale off a beautifully executed press break as the first quarter buzzer sounded to take a 20-11 lead.

The second quarter was a disaster offensively for the Royals as they only scored four points. A three-pointer by David WIlliams brought Rio Mesa down to 24-18 at halftime. 

The third quarter went back and forth. A driving layup by Ben Treadway increased the San Marcos lead to 35-24 with just over one minute remaining in the quarter, but Rio Mesa responded with a three-pointer by Jackson Knowles with 36 seconds left cutting the deficit to 35-27.

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Rio Mesa opened the fourth quarter on a 12-0 run including back-to-back three-pointers by Kiech and Knowles to open the period.  A basket inside by Williams put Rio Mesa ahead 39-35 with 4:15 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The two teams traded scores for the remainder of the fourth quarter with Rio Mesa scoring the majority of its points from the free throw line. The Spartans converted 12 of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter.

Andre McCullough cut the San Marcos deficit to two with 1:02 remaining. | Credit: Gary Kim.

A layup inside by Andre McCullough off an out of bounds play cut the San Marcos deficit to 45-43 with 1:02 remaining in the fourth quarter, but that’s the last time the Royals would score as they failed to convert on two possessions in the final minute and Rio Mesa’s Ethan Macias knocked down two free throws with 11.4 seconds remaining to secure the victory for the Spartans.

Santa Barbara, 78; Pacifica 54

Luke Zuffelato scored 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds for Santa Barbara. The Dons outscored the Tritons 37-20 in the second half to pull away for the win. With the victory Santa Barbara improves to 11-9 overall, and 5-1 in Channel League play.

St. Bonaventure, 74 Cate 59

The Rams got off to a strong start and led 20-16 at the end of the first quarter, but cold shooting allowed St. Bonaventure to take over the game in the second and third quarters. 

Marcus Scudder and Jengus Ercel led Cate with 14 points apiece. Babacar Pouye score 11 points and 14 rebounds in his first game back from injury

Dos Pueblos, 48; Ventura 47

The Chargers improved to 7-11 overall and 2-4 in Channel League play with the one-point victory at home over the Cougars.

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