Jamal Brower (15) of Rancho Christian drives to the basket in the 2nd quarter at Rancho Christian Tuesday. Defending is Josh Crutchfield (2) and Trey Mena (3) of Saddleback Valley.

SVC comes up short on final shot, loses


TEMECULA – Overtime was within reach for visiting Saddleback Valley Christian, but so were the long arms of Temecula Rancho Christian’s 6-foot-8 freshman center Isaiah Mobley.

With less than one second remaining, Jon Scherer’s contested 3-point attempt from the left baseline fell short, allowing Rancho Christian to secure a 72-69 victory over the Warriors in the semifinals of the CIF Division V Southern California Regionals.

The third-seeded Eagles (23-11), who defeated Playa del Rey St. Bernard nearly two weeks ago to capture their first CIF-SS championship, will face the Vikings again this Saturday in the regional championship at Ontario Colony High. The game is tentatively scheduled at noon.

The Warriors (21-13) inbounded the ball from half court to the 6-3 Scherer with 2.5 seconds remaining. He pump-faked Mobley to create just enough room to get the shot over the taller defender.

“We didn’t have any timeouts, so we just had to go with it, and just kind of go freestyle,” said Scherer, a freshman guard, who finished with 16 points, including four 3s. “I tried to just make him jump, get him up in the air. He did, and I was open. I should have just made it.”

Mobley did his best to make sure Scherer did not get an open shot.

“When he pump-faked, I jumped because I thought time was running out,” said Mobley, who finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots. “I tried to keep my hand in his face so he’d have a more altered shot.”

Saddleback overcame an 11-point first-half deficit, and eventually forged ahead, 51-42, late in the third quarter.

But the Warriors went cold from the floor in the fourth quarter, allowing the Eagles to come back.

A 3-point play from senior Greg Walter with 3:20 remaining put Rancho Christian up, 63-59. The Eagles made seven free throws down the stretch to hold onto their advantage.

“It was a great game and a great atmosphere for a regional semifinal,” said junior guard Trey Smith, who scored a game-high 26 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter. “Not a lot of teams get to play in a game like this, and we’re just thankful that we reached this opportunity.”

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