By Tim Peterson
(Glendora) – Maranatha struggled offensively for most of the night and eventually fell to Rancho Verde 43-41 Saturday night at the Felix Event Center at Azusa Pacific in the CIF Division 1AA Final.
The Minutemen shot just 14 percent from three point land (1 of 7) and 66 percent from the line. They did manage to shoot 40 percent from the floor but it wasn’t nearly enough.
Maranatha had a shot at the end after a Sean Espinosa steal and two free throws cut the lead to 41-38 with ten seconds left. Rancho Verde’s Damien Reedy hit one of two free throws to make it 42-38 but Chris Austin buried a three for the Minutemen to cut it to 42-41. Jaxen Turner’s one free throw made it 43-41 with two seconds left. Then Austin’s final heave at the buzzer fell short.
Rancho Verde scored the first six points of the game and led 11-6 after one quarter. Reedy hit a three and a bucket spark the Mustangs.
In the second quarter, Maranatha went on a 6-0 run to tie it at 14. Rancho Verde led 17-14 at the break.
Austin, who didn’t get many touches in the first half, hit a pair of buckets and the Minutemen went on a 6-0 run to open the third and grab a 20-17 advantage.
Rancho Verde answered with an 8-2 sprint of its own to go up 25-22 and took a five point lead into the fourth quarter, up 29-24.
Maranatha head coach Tim Tucker was furious on the sidelines in the fourth quarter as the Minutemen were called for two consecutive offensive fouls.
Tory Santonio converted a three point play on a driving bucket through the lane to put Rancho Verde up 35-29 with 4:00 left.
Maranatha’s Terrance Lang fouled out with 1:18 left with Rancho Verde up 37-33.
After a pair of free throws Espinosa hit a jumper to get Maranatha within 39-35 with 38 seconds left.
His subsequent steal and free throws got the Minutemen close but they weren’t able to get over the hump.
Austin finished with 16 points to lead Maranatha, Espinosa had 11 and Lang had six points and five rebounds.
For the victorious Mustangs, Reedy led the team and all scorers with 21 including two from long range. He was 9 of 12 from the field overall. San Antonio had 13.
For Maranatha the season will continue next week The Minutemen now await their matchup in the State Tournament.