Mission’s championship run comes to end 

Leave it to Judson Steele. Just minutes after his ninth-seeded Mission boys’ basketball team was on the wrong end of a 56-53 decision to eighth-seeded West Valley in Tuesday’s NorCal Division III outbracket game, the coach was already excited about next season and the damage the Bears could do next season.

But that’s not to say his heart wasn’t aching over the season-ending loss, which was cemented when Thomas O’Brien made two free throws with 13 seconds remaining.

"I’m a little frustrated that we lost," Steele said, "but overall, I’m happy about the season and the team, the way we played. We made a nice run in the playoffs. I can’t say enough about the way everybody played this season. There was a lot of heart from everyone in the Mission program."

West Valley (24-4), which lost the Northern Section final, advances to Thursday’s quarterfinals, where the Eagles will have to take the same 3½-hour bus ride the Bears made just in reverse to play at top-seeded St. Ignatius (23-7) at 7 p.m.

West Valley 56, Mission 53

The longest bus ride of the season didn’t seem to bother the young Bears.

Mission (15-13), runner-up in the San Francisco Section, started strong, leading 17-11 after the first quarter and 28-21 at halftime. The Bears played well except for a long stretch of the third quarter, in which the Eagles outscored Mission 23-15 to take a 44-43 lead entering the fourth.

"They started hitting a couple of big shots and the gym got rocking," Steele said of the third quarter. "We told the kids that [the Eagles] were going to make a run. We got dazed and we just weren’t able to match their intensity when they made their run."

But Mission regained its focus and retook control of the game, taking a 51-46 lead with 3 minutes, 30 seconds to play. West Valley, however, rattled off the next six points to take a 52-51 advantage with 1:25 left. Junior Garhett Parent scored five of his 19 points in that stretch and hit the go-ahead jumper in the lane for just the second West Valley lead of the second half.

Junior forward Jordan Pusung (13 points, 10 rebounds) sank two free throws with 1:12 remaining to put the Bears up 53-52, but West Valley’s Anthony Sanchez converted a layup with 40 seconds left to put the Eagles up for good at 54-53.

Junior guard Harry Howard, who led the Bears with 16 points, missed a long 3-pointer with 20 seconds left and O’Brien, a senior guard who scored 13 points, made both ends of a 1-and-1 with 13 seconds to go. Mission got off a pair of 3-pointers, but to no avail.

"I’m definitely excited about going to camps and playing in leagues this summer," said Steele, who will return all five starters next season and pointed to the 84-74 win over International Studies Academy in the section quarterfinals as the moment that showed the Bears belonged. "I think we can do some damage."

— Staff report

NORCAL TOURNAMENT (Games involving city teams)


Division I
» No. 6 De La Salle (27-2) vs. No. 4 Lowell (27-4) at Kezar Pavilion, 7 p.m.

Division III
» No. 8 West Valley (24-4) at No. 1 St. Ignatius (23-7), 7 p.m.
» No. 6 Riordan at No. 3 Sacramento (25-5), 7:30 p.m.

Division IV
» No. 5 Hamilton (22-5) vs. Bridgemont (17-2) at Holy Trinity Church, 7 p.m.


Division I
» No. 5 Kennedy (27-4) vs. No. 4 Lowell (29-2) at Kezar Pavilion, 6 p.m.
» No. 7 Carlmont (21-10) at No. 2 McClatchy (24-7), 7 p.m.

Division III
» No. 8 Enterprise (17-11) at No. 1 Sacred Heart Cathedral (28-2), 7 p.m.
» No. 6 St. Ignatius (22-8) at No. 3 Miramonte (23-6), 7 p.m.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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