St. Joe's Barely Falls Short of State Championship
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Mary McInerney

SJND junior Temidayo Yussuf, (No. 24) shoots a free throw in the last seconds of the game last Friday. Yussuf earned a double-double with 20 points and 19 rebounds. His efforts set a Division V record for rebounds in a state title game.

The California Interscholastic Federation Division 5 state championship game was going to end in tears for the St. Joseph Notre Dame (SJND) men's basketball team, whether it was tears of joy or sorrow. But for the Pilots, as the game clock expired last Friday, March 22 in Sacramento, it was tears of sorrow.

A 30-foot buzzer beating threepointer by Ethan Underwood of Horizon gave the Panthers a 47-46 victory over the Pilots and sent the Pilots (25-12) into an emotional downspin.

"You saw the players," St. Joseph coach Don Lippi said after the game. "That's why I do this, because they hurt. They hurt, and that means they care. That means they put effort into it. That was a tremendous effort."

The Pilots undoing came from the free-throw line, which was one of its advantages leading up to the game. The Pilots led 46-42 with 14 seconds left in the game. However, SJND missed four straight free throws in the final 11 seconds of the game along with several lay ups, which gave the Panthers the opportunity to win the game. The Pilots poor free throw shooting in the final was in contrast to the NorCal regional semi and finals games where the Pilots made numerous clutch free throws to seal those wins.

After St. Joseph sophomore Marcus Harris missed his second of two free throw attempts with four seconds left, Darren Carrington got the rebound and passed to Underwood, who swished the game-winning shot.

SJND center Temidayo Yussuf had a game-high 20 points and a Division 5 finals-record 19 rebounds. The Pilots were searching for its fifth state championship title. They last won the state championship in 2011. The Pilots won the NorCal Division 5 title last week 50-36 against Capitol Christian of Sacramento.

 

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