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Tustin reaches first CIF final since '95
COMPTON – Deondre Bryant, Tustin's senior forward, was helped off the court with 2:51 left in the third period after suffering an injury to his right ankle.
He limped to the end of the bench and was checked out by Tustin trainers.
He didn't stay there long.
Bryant checked back into the game, to a loud ovation from the Tustin supporters. He scored on the first offensive possession back in the game and tallied seven in the fourth period to help the top-seeded Tillers (29-2) put away fourth-seeded Compton, 58-51 in a CIF-SS Division 3AAA semifinal, Friday night.
The Tillers will face Royal of Simi Valley in the finals. Royal defeated Brea Olinda, 63-54 in the other semifinal. The date will be announced Monday.
This is first trip to the finals for Tustin since 1995.
"I jumped up to get the rebound and when I came down, my ankle rolled," Bryant said. "I thought I broke. I don't know how I went back in to be honest.
"I had to play through the pain. I couldn't let my team down."
The Tillers are certainly glad that he did. After the game, Bryant had his ankle wrapped up, something that he's going to be doing a lot of between now and the finals.
He finished with 24 points.
"Him coming back in after spraining his ankle gave us the emotional lift," Tustin coach Ringo Bossenmeyer said of Bryant. "That was a huge concern (of Bryant possibly not coming back in) he was obviously a huge factor down low, he was having his way and without him coming back, it might have been a rough go, but the kids stuck together and winning here is a special win."
With Bryant providing the emotional lift, Nick Hornsby was attacking inside the paint and from the free throw line. Hornsby, who finished with 26 points, scored 10 in the fourth period as the Tillers were finally able to pull away from Compton.
Hornsby made 14 free throws.
"Down the stretch, he was making big plays like a big-time player does," Bossenmeyer said of Hornsby.
In the fourth, Tustin went on a 7-0 run, started by a 3-pointer by Rob Nelsen, to take a 52-43 lead with less than a minute remaining.
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