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Garden Grove prevails in OT, keeps title fight going
Garden Grove's energetic student cheering section chanted "this game's over" when its team had a five-point lead with 22 seconds remaining.
The kids were a little early, but eventually correct.
Santiago pushed the game into overtime, and Garden Grove finally did put it away to beat the Cavaliers, 78-74, in a Garden Grove League game Thursday night at Garden Grove High.
A Santiago victory would have clinched the school's first boys basketball league championship since 1976. The Cavaliers remain in first place with a 6-2 record and two games to play. They have a one-game lead over 5-3 Garden Grove with La Quinta lurking at 4-4.
The Argonauts had a 71-65 lead with those 22 seconds remaining. Santiago's Francisco Franco, who had made 1 of 8 shots over the first three quarters, came alive in the fourth. He made a 14-foot jumper with 17 seconds remaining and a 12-footer seven seconds later. Garden Grove's Mitchell Hesla made a free throw with eight seconds left to make it 72-69.
Franco made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, confirmed in a post-buzzer conversation among the officials, to tie it at 72-72 and force overtime.
Garden Grove quickly surged ahead in overtime, in which the Argonauts' Paul Singh made three free throws, and did not trail in the extra period.
Hesla, a 6-foot-2 junior forward, led Garden Grove with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Manny Singh scored 19 points and Chris Martinez added 17. Alex Alvarez hustled his way to eight rebounds.
Francisco Arroyo led the Cavaliers with 19 points.
Alex Robertson scored 17 until he fouled out with 3:53 left in the fourth quarter and the score tied, 56-56. Manny Singh said the fouling out of Robertson, Santiago's leading scorer at 20 points a game, was a turning point.
"We fouled out their best player, Robertson, and we got the lead because of that," Manny Singh said. "We won because of that."
Garden Grove twice had leads of six points, once in the first quarter and early in the fourth. Santiago kept rallying in a game that had 13 lead changes.
"We gave up a five-point lead," Garden Grove coach Ken Frank said, "and obviously that's something that shouldn't happen.
"But what I am proud about is, how often does a team collapse after something like that? And we did not collapse."
Rancho Alamitos won the league championship last season. Garden Grove's most recent league title was in the 2009-10 season.