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Boys' Basketball: Aztecs upset CdM

Visiting Palm Desert shoots 58.8% from field to knock off ice-cold Sea Kings in second round.

February 21, 2014|By Barry Faulkner

In the CIF Southern Section postseason, no measure of respect is awarded free. It's earned, one possession, one game, one victory at a time.

Perhaps no team in the 3AA Division boys' basketball playoffs knows this better than Palm Desert High, a team that entered Friday's second-round game at Corona del Mar seeking respect as much as a win.

The No. 13-seeded Aztecs, who went 12-0 to win the Desert Valley League, have made the playoffs six straight seasons and came in with a 12-game winning streak, gained a significant measure of respect by producing a 55-43 upset of No. 4-seeded Corona del Mar.

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The Aztecs (21-5), seized a lead of 8-0, trailed only once, shot 58.8% from the field, 57.1% from three-point range and held the Sea Kings to just 30.6% shooting from the field.

CdM (20-7), which relied on penetration and perimeter shooting to win a share of the Pacific Coast League title, also missed all 10 of its first-half free throws. The Sea Kings finished 10 for 25 from the foul line and made just two of 17 three-point tries (11.8%).

CdM, which committed its first turnover nearly 20 minutes into the contest and finished with just three turnovers, opened the second half on a 7-3 run that turned a 24-21 intermission deficit into a 28-27 lead.

But after Palm Desert senior point guard Andrew Clark answered with a driving layin with 5:06 left in the third period, the Sea Kings never led again.

"This is a senior-laden team and we didn't get much respect from CIF, in terms of a seeding," said Palm Desert Coach Don Brady, in his 28th season at the helm of the Aztecs. "I think we're pretty good. Corona could have beaten us. [It] has a great program. But I felt like we could pretty much play with anyone and we just weren't given much respect all year."

The Aztecs made seven of 10 field-goal attempts in the third quarter to help fuel a 19-1 run that extended into the fourth quarter and eventually yielded a 48-30 advantage.

CdM, defending feverishly, fouling and hoisting numerous three-point attempts to try to pare the deficit, eventually pulled within 50-42 with 1:07 left.

But the visitors, who made just 10 if their 22 free throws to make the two teams a combined 20 for 47 from the foul line (46.8%), netted five of six from the line in the final 63 seconds to advance to the quarterfinals.

It's only the second time in six seasons the Aztecs have made it past the second round.

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