Tied at 56 with 1:04 left to play, Adam Thompson made four free throws and Justin Saisho hit a big three-pointer and another free throw as Mark Keppel High went on to defeat host Bell Gardens High, 64-56, on Friday night in a CIF Southern Section Almont League game.
Thompson finished with 20 points, shooting 6-for-11 from the floor and 4-for-6 from the free throw line to go along with nine rebounds and four assists. And Saisho had 12 points, two assists and four rebounds.
But doing the heavy lifting for the Aztecs was Bertram Mak. Mak had a double-double with 26 points and 19 rebounds. He also picked up four blocks.
Keppel coach Hung Duong said he is not surprised this game went down to the wire.
“It is a dogfight every game that we’re going to be in,” Duong said. “That’s how we treat it. No matter where we go it’s going to be a tough game. This league is pretty even. So you can’t take any team for granted.”
He added Bell Gardens put up a good fight.
“They’re feisty,” he said of the Lancers. “I told my kids they’re dangerous coming into their territory. They’re playing as they’re always playing hard against us. You got to give them a lot of credit. They played really hard.”
He also said the Aztecs need to play a little cleaner if they’re going to continue to win basketball games.
“We just got to make sure we stay in our spots and make good passes and don’t throw the ball away,” he said.
Saisho said the Aztecs really came together for this win.
“It was a team effort,” Saisho said. “I wasn’t hitting most of my shots, but my teammates helped me out. It was a great team win.”
Thompson agreed and also gave credit to teammate Mak for getting the team a win.
“It was just a great team effort,” Thompson said. “We came out a little slow, but Bertram Mak held his own and just kept us in the game. In the second half, we just came out ready to play. We were poised while they were making their run.”
Up by just one point, 13-12, early in the second quarter, Keppel went on a 9-0 run – mainly behind the hot hand of Mak – to take a 22-12 lead.
However, Bell Gardens then got back in the game, finishing off an 11-5 run just before halftime.
Mak hit the team’s first four field goals in the third quarter, but the Aztecs couldn’t shake the Lancers and Freddy Herrera, who finished with 14 points to lead Bell Gardens.