Jordan Tyler spent the conclusion of the Braves’ boys basketball semifinal game with his home jersey draped over his head and his eyes gazing to the ground – signifying the end of Lompoc’s CIF Southern Section Division 4A title pursuit.
The Braves – after upsetting two ranked opponents in their division to stretch their season to the semis – saw a close deficit evaporate in the fourth quarter, losing to Riverside Carnegie 62-44 on Friday night on Bryan Ayer Court.
The Wolverines led 45-36 entering the final quarter before turning to 3-pointers and second-chance layups to help extend the lead. Carnegie also overwhelmed Lompoc with both its size and athleticism – as a sea of maize and blue ran up-and-down the floor and helped take the energy away from the home team and home crowd.
Offensively, Lompoc struggled to get its up-tempo offense going against a Wolverines team with eight players towering above 6-foot-4. The Braves found themselves missing 3-point opportunities and even second chance layups.
Head coach Paul Terrones spent the end of the game wondering what could have been for Lompoc (15-16).
“It’s disappointing. I felt like we needed one of those big 3s to go down – and I don’t think we made them all night,” Terrones said. “I felt like if one of them fell, it would’ve been a different outcome.”
Terrones, however, chose not to wallow in self pity – as the first-year head coach and veteran football coach was pleased with the effort of his team.
“They left everything out on the court. I’m not disappointed in them at all,” Terrones said. “It’s just a disappointing feeling because we didn’t perform to the level that we’re capable of, but I can’t complain.”
Despite the loss, Lompoc has placed itself in a position to play an extra boys basketball game. According to school athletic director Don Cross, he received an email from the CIF state committee indicating that LHS is good to go for the upcoming state playoffs as an at-large. Seedings for the state playoffs won’t be announced until March 4.
There was a heated confrontation during the third quarter between Carnegie head coach Jonathan Chaney and an elder fan. Words were exchanged and a shove between the two ensued. Police inside the gym immediately rushed over and escorted the fan out of Paisola Pavilion. Play was stopped momentarily during that event with the Wolverines up 37-29.
Once that ordeal wrapped up, Ruben Cortez nailed a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 43-34, prompting Terrones to call a timeout. Lompoc, however, couldn’t get within nine points for the rest of the evening.
Four Wolverine players reached double figures in scoring. Senior captain Petar Panic led the way with 16 points, while Francis Bemiy, Stevan Kristinic and Kevin Karl all had 10 points apiece.
Tyler led LHS with 14 points and had an astonishing seven blocks. No other Brave player, though, reached double figures – a much different result compared to the five Braves who scored at least 10 points against Desert Hot Springs.
Andrew Villa finished with nine points. Jeffrey Ray had eight points. Ryan Morgan added seven points while Cortez finished with six.
Again, Terrones came away from the game pleased with the overall effort from a Braves team that became a Cinderella story in these CIF-SS playoffs, plus tipped his hat to the Wolverines.
“I thought they (Carnegie) would bring a lot of energy – and I think that was the biggest thing. They just kept coming and coming and they were in your face,” Terrones said. “It’s hard to deal with because you don’t see it very often. We did the best we could.”