REGION — With a sellout — and largely partisan crowd — rooting on Mission Bay’s basketball team on Dec. 29, the stage was set for a San Diego team led by a highly recruited guard to claim the coveted National Division championship at the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic for the second time in three years.
The Buccaneers, which entered the tournament as the No. 3 team in San Diego, had rattled off three consecutive wins in the highest division of the nationally recognized tournament to make it to the championship game against Shadow Mountain of Phoenix, Arizona, one of the top teams in the country.
Shadow Mountain had other designs.
Led by its highly touted backcourt of Jaelen House and Jovan Blacksher, who scored 29 and 22 points, respectively, the Matadors dominated Mission Bay 82-62 in a game marred by five technical fouls, 56 personal fouls and two player disqualifications.
House, the son of former Arizona State and NBA standout Eddie House, was named tournament most valuable player, and Blacksher was named to the All-Tournament team.
Mission Bay guard Boogie Ellis, who has signed to play at Duke University, led the Buccaneers with 20 points and was also named to the All-Tournament team.
A day after Ellis scored 43 points to will Mission Bay into the title game in an 86-80 win over O’Dea High of Seattle, Washington, Shadow Mountain — coached by former NBA star Michael Bibby — made him work for every point he scored.
Ellis finished the game shooting 3-10 from the field, scoring the majority of his points from the foul line, where he shot 14-16.
But in order for the Buccaneers to knock off the nationally-ranked Matadors, Ellis needed big games from his usually stout supporting cast of Andre Scott, Jay Norton, Ronnie Latting and Savaughn Davis.
Scott scored 15 points, but Mission Bay’s other starters combined to go 6-19 from the field.
Early in the game, however, it appeared Mission Bay would keep things close, trailing Shadow Mountain 17-15 after the first quarter.
But as the fouls piled up — Ellis and Norton would finish the second quarter with three fouls apiece — and Shadow Mountain’s ratcheted up its already noted defensive intensity, the Matadors stretched the lead to 42-25 at the halftime break.
Then, chaos ensued in the third quarter.
It started when Latting and Shadow Mountain Center Malik Lamin exchanged words after a double foul. The referees did not assess additional technical fouls, but several plays later, Norton and Shadow Mountain guard Devontes Cobbs were assessed technical fouls for post-play jawing.
The technical foul was Norton’s fifth foul, disqualifying him from the game, but referees assessed him a second technical for what they explained was unnecessary contact with Cobbs as he walked toward his bench.
After Shadow Mountain shot the technical free throws, they quickly inbounded the ball and scored a layup with Mission Bay only having four players on the court, as the referees failed to signal Norton’s replacement into the game. Mission Bay head coach Marshawn Cherry put Norton back in the game, which resulted in another stoppage of play.
The referees then assessed Cherry with a technical for disputing the play.
By the time the quarter had ended, Latting and Norton had fouled out and Mission Bay trailed 64-38.
The loss dimmed what had been another impressive run by Mission Bay through the National Bracket a year after finishing third place. The Bucs defeated Sacramento Capital Christian, Torrey Pines and O’Dea to advance to the title game.
Mission Bay, Foothills Christian, St. Augustine, Torrey Pines and La Jolla Country Day participated in the National Bracket, with four of the five advancing to the quarterfinals, and two — Foothills and Mission Bay — advancing to the semifinals.
Foothills Christian defeated O’Dea to claim third place. Torrey Pines finished 2-2, with a win over St. Augustine in the seventh-place game. St. Augustine and La Jolla Country Day both finished 1-3.
In other divisions:
American Division — Brentwood defeated Heritage Christian of Northridge 77-62 to claim the crown of the tournament’s second division. Francis Parker defeated San Marcos 68-64 for third place. St. Augustine High School hosted the American Division games.
Senators Division — Long Beach St. Anthony defeated the host, Santa Fe Christian, 73-64 to claim the title. The second-place Eagles advanced to the championship by upsetting Salpointe Catholic 69-50 in the semifinals.
Governor’s Division — Sacramento-area Rocklin defeated El Camino 80-71 in the championship game played at Canyon Crest Academy.
Mayor’s Division — Rancho Buena Vista defeated Sweetwater 85-77 in overtime to claim the crown at Sage Creek High School. Bishop’s won the division’s consolation championship over Ramona.
The Holiday Classic All-Tournament Team
Jaelen House, Shadow Mountain, MVP
Jovan Blacksher, Shadow Mountain
Boogie Ellis, Mission Bay
John Christofillis, O’Dea
Jaren Nafarrete, Foothills Christian
Makur Maker, Orange Lutheran
Jalen Graham, Mountain Pointe (Arizona)
Jalen Green, San Joaquin Memorial
Marcus Bagley, Sheldon
Mason Hooks, Harvard Westlake
Bryce Pope, Torrey Pines
Chibuzo Agbo, St. Augustine
DJ Rodman, JSerra Catholic