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Mission speeds by Lowell in drive to 3rd-straight title

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Amaan Shaikh, of Lowell, shoots a free throw against Mission on Tuesday. (Ethan Kassel/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Lowell head coach Robert Ray said before the game that his team’s plan was to slow down the high-flying Mission Bears on Tuesday. That plan worked early on, but Mission closed the second quarter on a 16-1 run en route to a 50-37 win, putting the Bears in prime position for a third consecutive AAA title.

Mission (21-1, 8-0)  got scoring from five different players during the deciding offensive outburst that spanned the final five-plus minutes of the first half.

The lengthy Mission run helped the Bears remove any doubt in the second half. Lowell never got closer than eight points, and the lead was in double-digits for almost the entire fourth quarter.

The Bears forced 23 turnovers, ratcheting up the tempo of the game against a Lowell group that’s better suited to a plodding style.

“The defense had to pick it up and play with intensity. Forcing turnovers and keeping up speed is a major key,” said Niamey Harris.

Harris led all scorers with 16 points, including nine in the fourth quarter, and Johnson added 12. Pratt did a little bit of everything, finishing with six points, five assists and four rebounds. Isaac Firestone, a 6-7 senior, led Lowell with 14 points.

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