’Rabbits fend off Padres - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

’Rabbits fend off Padres

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Posted: Sunday, December 19, 2004 7:23 am | Updated: 5:06 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

December 19, 2004

After watching Kal Bay shoot Marcos de Niza back into the Horizon Invitational championship game, there was no way Mesa was going to let him take a potential gamewinning shot.

The No. 2 Jackrabbits forced ninth-ranked Marcos’s late-game inbounds pass — and its chance at a second big upset — to go astray by tripleteaming Bay on the final play to hold on for a 66-64 victory Saturday night at Horizon High.

Bay scored 22 of his gamehigh 28 points in the second half, including 11 in the final four minutes of the game as the Padres (5-3) nearly came back from an 11-point hole. He scored 29 points in Marcos’ first-round upset of No. 1 Glendale Deer Valley on Thursday.

"If anyone’s going to hit them, he’ll hit them," tournament MVP Graham Hatch said. "He’s their go-to guy. We didn’t want him to get the ball."

The Jackrabbits (10-0) scored the final eight points of the first half to head into the break with a six-point lead. They clung to the lead the rest of the way thanks to a decisive rebounding advantage that allowed them to overcome a bad shooting night.

The lead grew to 11 points and stood at 10 with about three minutes to play. Omar Rodriguez, Alex Cooper and Michael Broom each scored for Marcos as the lead dwindled to six points before Bay took over.

The junior guard scored on a layup, then hit his fourth and fifth 3-pointers of the game to cut the lead to one point with 6.8 seconds remaining. Hatch hit 1-of-2 free throws, and Bay was fouled after the rebound giving Mesa a chance to set up its anti-Bay defense with 2.8 seconds left. The inbounds pass was then knocked away.

"I think our guys are pretty mentally and physically tough," Mesa coach Shawn Lynch said. "They responded even as ugly as the game was." Hatch scored 22 points to lead the Jackrabbits to their second-straight Horizon Invitational championship. Matt Komenda scored 15 points, and Travis LeBaron added 14.

Cooper scored 13 points for the Padres to join Bay in double figures.

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