Posted On: 02/21/18 12:04 PM
The ending of the CIF Southern Section Division 3AA quarterfinal game between host Crean Lutheran and visiting San Gabriel Academy is one that won’t soon be forgotten.
With Crean trailing by three, 40-37, after SGA’s Ian McCloskey hit a left wing 3-pointer with just under a minute to play, Saints junior guard Chris Swardstrom dialed one up from the volleyball line at the top of the key to tie the game at 40 with nine seconds to play.
Swardstrom hits one from the volleyball line with 9 seconds to go. We’re all tied at 40. pic.twitter.com/MFuovRAodf
— Devin Ugland (@Devin_Ugland) February 21, 2018
The Eagles turned the ball back over to Crean 2.7 seconds remaining and Saints coach Josh Beaty called for time. Beaty drew up a last second play that was executed to perfection by his team.
Sophomore Jake Conerty, also known for his baseball prowess, took the ball out on the sideline at three-quarter court. He lobbed one up to classmate Isaiah Johnson who sealed off his defender to perfection.
The pass was a little long, but Johnson tracked it down and found Swardstrom waiting to his left on the baseline. Swardstrom, fading away, put just enough air under the ball for it to drop through the net as time expired, giving the Saints a 42-40 win over the Eagles.
Unreal. Chris Swardstrom with the baseline fading buzzer beater. Crean beats SGA, 42-40. pic.twitter.com/NYTmK2AVzv
— Devin Ugland (@Devin_Ugland) February 21, 2018
Crean Lutheran’s raucous student section mobbed Swardstrom who was sitting on the deck in disbelief and the Saints move on to the 3AA semifinals where they will play powerhouse Long Beach St. Anthony on the road Friday.
Here are the Ten Best from Tuesday night:
Best Clutch Performance: Nick Swardstrom, Crean Lutheran
Who else? The 6-foot-3 junior hit the game tying 3-pointer with nine seconds left and the game-winner as time expired. Swardstrom had eight points on just three field goal makes with five of the points and two of the field goals coming in the final nine seconds.
Best Scoring Performance: Jake Conerty, Crean Lutheran
The 6-foot-4 wing didn’t get one of his patented poster dunks in, but he did display some impressive post footwork and touch around the basket, finishing with a game-high 18 points. Crean pounded the ball Conerty as the game teetered toward a San Gabriel Academy runaway, but the sophomore put the Saints on his back through the third and fourth quarters.
Best Prospect: Isaiah Johnson, Crean Lutheran
The 6-foot-6 sophomore continues to add layers to his development. He got into some early foul trouble, but didn’t let it affect his impact on the game, especially in the fourth quarter. Johnson had a momentum changing put-back dunk early in the fourth quarter and came away with a handful of key rebounds and steals down the stretch, one of which resulted in a coast-to-coast finish. Johnson finished with 13 points on the night.
Best Mid-Range Jumper: Sava Dukic, San Gabriel Academy
The 6-foot-1 senior plays with good pace and a high basketball IQ, much of which allows him to pick his scoring spots as he pleases. One of Dukic’s go-to moves is his mid-range pull-up or floater. All eight of Dukic’s points came at that level and he gets good lift and has great touch on his pull-up.
Best Rebounder: Boubacar Coulibaly, San Gabriel Academy
Coulibaly is long and rangy at 6-feet-10 and 185 pounds, but that doesn’t always translate to being a good rebounder. Activity and a want for the basketball is key for cleaning the offensive or defensive glass and Coulibay’s game-high 13 rebounds showed he had both the willingness to rebound and a desire to go get the basketball.
Best Catch-and-Shooter: Ian McCloskey, San Gabriel Academy
The 6-foot-3 sophomore has exactly what one would envision with thinking of ideal shooting mechanics. Couple that with good balance, a quick release and no hesitation to pull and you’ve got a guy that’s a true shooting threat from deep off of drive and kicks. Swardstrom wasn’t the only one to make a clutch shot as McCloskey’s left wing triple with just under a minute to play broke a 37-all tie.
Best Slasher: Malakhi Jensen, San Gabriel Academy
Jensen scored a team-high 10 points on the game and the majority of those came by way of moving off the ball and finding the weak spots in the defense. Jensen finished in a variety of ways around the basket and knocked down a couple of elbow jumpers.
Best Glue-Guy: Derek Bagatourian, Crean Lutheran
If there was an unsung hero on the night, it was most definitely Crean’s Bagatourian. The 6-foot-5 sophomore changed the entire complexion of the game by taking three charges in the second quarter, which resulted in six points for the Saints on the other end. Instead of Crean trailing by double-digits heading to halftime, the deficit was at a manageable eight points.
Best Shot Contester: Gum Majak, Crean Lutheran
Majak is a super long 6-foot-7 forward who has been a consistent defensive presence for the Saints since becoming eligible after the 30-day sit out period. The junior is mobile, active and stays vertical on shot contests in the paint.
Best Motor: Jake Conerty, Crean Lutheran
Conerty was all over the court Tuesday night. Not only did he bring the ball up and initiate offense due to the absence of point guard Aiden Gilbert, but the majority of his points came in the paint off of impressive post moves and post footwork. Conerty also guarded multiple positions on the defensive end.