Leading by two, 40-38, with less than a minute to play, the Mark Keppel High boys’ basketball team gave up a three-point shot to visiting Montebello High’s Lugo Viramontes as the Oilers went on to win, 43-40, in the CIF Southern Section Almont League finale.
Viramontes hit his shot from just beyond the free throw lane with eight seconds to play.
“It feels really good,” Viramontes said about making the basket. “I really wanted to end the season on a good note. I was hoping (my teammate) got the ball, but I took the shot because it was open.”
Teammate Michael Mendoza sealed the win with two free throws with one second left to play.
Keppel finishes the regular season with a record of 22-5 overall and 9-1 in league play. And for the second straight season the Aztecs saw Montebello ruin an otherwise perfect league run.
Montebello finishes at 16-10 overall and 8-2 in league play, with losses coming earlier in the season to Keppel and Schurr High.
Montebello coach Nathan Yu said he was happy the Oilers were able to upend the Aztecs’ record.
“Two years we’ve spoiled their perfect season,” Yu said. “I know they’re disappointed, but our guys worked. Last year was the same thing. Nobody expected us to win. We had a pretty good chance this year as well, too. Probably a little better than last year.”
Yu said his guys get really pumped up for this game, especially when so much is on the line.
“They kind of knew what was at stake,” he said. “They knew it was a big game. It’s nice to get a win against a team that everyone thinks is good. Just to be able to (beat them) feels good for us.”
Keppel coach Hung Duong said he was impressed with the way the Oilers played against his squad.
“Montebello is a solid team,” Duong said. “We knew that coming in here. We knew they were going to battle hard. They’re very physical and fundamentally sound. I knew it was going to be tough. They made some big, big shots. We just had some lapses, but I got to give them credit.”
Duong said it was better to take this tough loss now then during the upcoming CIF Southern Section playoffs.
“It’s a blessing in disguise,” he said. “That’s what I told the kids. It’s a wake-up call.”
Adam Thompson led the Aztecs in scoring with 14 points, but shot just 5-for-17 from the floor and 1-for-6 from the free throw line. Justin Saisho came through with nine points.