Santa Maria's boys basketball team out-scored six-time defending league champion by a point over the last three quarters Friday night.
Trouble was, the Saints were down by 11 when the second quarter.
The Conquistadores wound up with a 58-48 win at Cabrillo over the persistent Saints to run their season record to 12-5, 9-0 and their Los Padres League winning streak to 41. They have a two-game lead over second-place Santa Ynez with five league games left.
Santa Maria is 13-6, 6-3. The first meeting between these teams this year went to the wire, with Cabrillo winning 65-64 at Santa Maria's Wilson Gym on Jan. 18. Things weren't as dramatic this time, though the Saints made it interesting.
The game was tied at four-all briefly then the Saints' offense went into a funk. Austin Olsen and LeAndrew Knight scored four points each as Cabrillo went on a 13-2 run the last 6:02 of the first quarter.
"As you know, it's very hard to play them in here," a hoarse Santa Maria coach Dave Yamate said afterward.
"(Our players) can't hear a thing I'm telling them with the noise in here. My voice is shot, from yelling with the acoustics in here. I'm proud of the way our guys battled."
The Saints did indeed battle. Down 51-37 with 4:24 left, they closed within 51-44 at the 2:29 mark of the fourth quarter, behind four points by Blake Truhitte and a three-pointer by Joey Nevarez.
However, the Saints came up empty on their next two possessions, and that was it. Olsen and Knight sealed the deal for the Conqs when they forced a late steal.
Eddy Little made a subsequent layup to make it 55-46, and Knight scored the lConqs' last three points.
"If we make a '3' here, score on a key possession there, it's a three-or-four point game," said Yamate.
Speaking of '3's, Santa Maria's typically prolific 3-point shooters, often seeming rushed, made only four of them Friday night. That, Olsen and Cabrillo coach C.J. Simmons said, was a big reason their team won.
"We stressed that in practice yesterday, getting up in them," said Simmons. "We kept their shooters off the (3-point) line."
Olsen said, "We knew we couldn't let them get a (3-point) shot off, that we had to keep the pressure." The Saints did get a lot of 3-point shots off, but several of them were on looks at the basket that weren't very good.
Second-chance points were another big reason the Conquistadores won. Olsen and Knight did most of the rebounding work that allowed Cabrillo to out-score Santa Maria 17-7 on second-chance points.
"You just have tp read it," Olsen said of his good offensive rebounding work Friday night. "You just have to know where the ball is going."
Truhitte kept the Saints in it most of the way and finished with a game high 23 points. He was the only Santa Maria player in double figures. Nevarez finished with nine points.
The Saints ditched their usual full court press in favor of a zone defense and managed to slow down Knight, Cabrillo's dynamic point guard, though Knight did score 19 hard-earned points, with 13 coming after halftime. Two of those came on a dunk that had the Cabrillo supporters roaring.
"We ran a box-and-one on LeAndrew. At times, we even ran a triangle and two on LeAndrew," said Yamate.
"It did surprise me that they came out in a zone, but that's Dave," said Simmons. "He's always going to mix it up. You have to be ready for it."
Blake Beecher scored some key second-half points to help the Conquistadores hold off the Saints. He finished with 12 points. Olsen wound up with 11.
Cabrillo will play at Santa Ynez at 6:30 p.m. Monday night. Santa Maria will host Lompoc in another LPL game at the same time.
It will be another busy week for LPL teams next week. They will play on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights, after playing a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule this week.
Santa Ynez 45, Morro Bay 42
The Pirates out-scored Morro Bay 23-8 in the fourth quarter to pull out the win and move to 7-2 in the Los Padres League.
Zack Hewitt led Santa Ynez's scoring with 21 points. Merek Mercado racked up a double-double for Santa Ynez with 17 points and 11 rebounds.