Buena Park's title hopes survive battle with Troy


BUENA PARK - Buena Park’s dream of winning the program’s first title in boys basketball since 1992 is still alive thanks to a final defensive stand Tuesday night.

Buena Park junior guard Rocky Watkins blocked Ryan Mickle potential game-winning 3-point attempt as time expired to help the host Coyotes escape with a 54-52 victory over Troy in a Freeway League game at Buena Park High.

The Coyotes (20-6, 7-2) conclude the regular season Thursday against Sonora in a game that will decide the league title. The two teams are tied for first place.

“Their shooter was wide open ... and I went out to defend,” Watkins said. “It’s basically all-or-nothing … If they scored a three, then that was game.”

As for Thursday’s showdown with Sonora, he added, “We want to win league ... It is going to be a big game for us.”

Buena Park never trailed in the fourth quarter, taking the lead for good, 52-50, with a baseline drive and layup from Joe Galvan.

Watkins made a pair of free throws for a 54-50 lead. Troy’s Semir Shafi cut the lead in half, 54-52, with less than 40 seconds remaining.

Buena Park had a chance to put the game away but committed a turnover, giving Troy (14-12, 5-4) a final opportunity to steal the game.

“Troy is always going to give you a tough game,” Buena Park coach Aaron Riekenberg said. “We didn’t execute as nicely as we would have liked to down the stretch, so that made things a little bit more difficult.

“Troy is a great man-defensive team, so they’re going to make it tough and not allow you to pull away from you. We had to battle ... Any time you can hold a team under 60 (points), you’re pretty happy with that defensive effort.”

The Coyotes received a 20-point effort from Ryan Nelson and Galvan finished with 16.

Shafi led Troy with 14 points. Ryan Murase had 12 points and made four 3-pointers. Collin Lee added 11 points.

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