May 25, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: Fairmont Prep wins a thriller over Capo Valley 42-40 in second round of CIF playoffs

Kristan Jemerson of Fairmont Prep (left) and Zack Roberts of Capo Valley fight for control Friday night. (Photos courtesy Mark Bausman, For OC Sports Zone)

Friday night’s CIF Division 2AA second round playoff game between Fairmont Prep and Capo Valley was not for the meek and mild.

Huskies senior guard Atin Wright scored 13 of his game-high 26 points in the fourth quarter to lead Fairmont Prep to a 42-40 victory over the Cougars at Fairmont Prep High. Wright scored 13 of the Huskies 14 points in the fourth quarter.

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“I’m a senior and I don’t want to go home,” said Wright, who is committed to play at Cal State Northridge next season. “The key was getting rebounds and getting stops. Our number one priority in every game is defense. We ought back and played as a team. It feels pretty good to be going to the quarterfinals.”

The Huskies (21-8) advance to the quarterfinals and will play Santa Clarita Christian next Tuesday.

Pape Cisse made the first throw of two free throws but missed the second attempt to give Fairmont a 42-40 lead with 28 seconds left in the game. Capo Valley (26-4) called time out to set up their final play. The Huskies had fouls to give and committed three consecutive fouls to disrupt the Cougars attack and ran the clock down to under 10 seconds. 

On their fourth inbounds play, Brody Sumner inbounded the ball to Langston Redfield who drove the lane but missed a layup. Cisse grabbed the rebound but was tied up and a jump ball was called.

The Cougars retained possession with 1.3 seconds to play and took the ball out from under their basket. Landon Li inbounded the ball to Redfield who attempted a fade away jumper from the corner but Cisse blocked the shot as the time ran out securing the Huskies win.

“We did not let up on defense in the final quarter,” said Cisse. “We moved the ball better in the second half and rebounded better and that’s the way we have to play each game to keep winning.”

Huskies coach Joedy Gardner was elated with the win and impressed with his star player.

“Atin’s 3-pointer with under two minutes to play was huge play for us,” said Gardner. “He wasn’t feeling well before the game (sore throat and a headache) and we had to keep giving him liquids at halftime. He’s a tough sucker. This game came down to who was going to make a big play at the end and Cisse did it. I really think our tough regular season schedule set us up to win a game like this. We played seven of the top 25 teams in the state and I think that was the key.”

Sumner led Capo Valley with 11 points and Connor Gleason added 10 points before fouling out of the game with 28 seconds to play.

Trailing 24-13 at the break, the Huskies went on an 8-0 run to open the third quarter. Wright’s basket cut the lead to 24-21 with 5:14 left in the quarter.

But the Cougars countered and went on a run to up its lead to 31-23, following a free throw by Gleason with 1:29 left in the quarter. Cory Johnson added a bucket and Wright drilled a 3-pointer to trim the Capo Valley lead to 31-28 after three periods.

“I’ve never had the opportunity to go to the quarter finals, this is an unbelievable feeling,” said Johnson, who scored six points. “Our crowd was the reason we won. We stayed calm and they uplifted us.”

Wright opened the final quarter with a 3-pointer to tie the game at 31 and moments later added a free throw to give Fairmont its first lead of the game, 32-31, with 6:58 to play. The game see-sawed over the next few minutes but down the stretch the Cougars committed several crucial turnovers and failed to score in the final 2:50 of the game.  

“We did not play like we normally do in the fourth quarter,” Capo Valley Coach Brian Mulligan said. “We didn’t rebound, we turned the ball over and we missed easy shots. Credit Wright, he took over the game. We had tendencies this season to have stretches where we didn’t score and we did that tonight. But I’m proud of our guys. This is the closest bunch I’ve ever coached, there’s not a bad one among them.”

-Tom Connolly, For OC Sports Zone