The fist-pumping on the floor for the Mission boys’ basketball team started with 15 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter while Demaree Hampton was still dribbling out the clock.
Hampton scored 27 points, Harry Howard added 20 and Ronell Foster had nine points and pulled down 20 rebounds as the host Bears (17-3, 10-0 AAA) knocked off the Cardinals 68-56 in a rematch of last year’s San Francisco Section final.
Two-time defending-champion Lowell won that game 72-69 in overtime, and last lost to the Bears on Jan. 23, 2004, winning five straight over that span.
“I could barely sleep last night, I was so hyped thinking about this game,” Hampton said. “We’ve never beaten them, and we couldn’t wait for another chance.”
The junior had 11 points in the first quarter, including a jumper with 3:25 left that put Mission ahead 12-10. The Bears were up for the remainder of the game, and maintained at least an eight-point lead for the entire second half despite shooting just 25-of-72 from the floor. The reason? Led by Foster and Jordan Pusung (nine rebounds), the Bears outrebounded Lowell 46-24 and attempted 22 more shots than the Cardinals (17-6, 8-2).
“Last year, I didn’t do as much as I wanted to against them, so today I decided I was going to grab everything, even if it meant taking boards from my own teammates,” Foster said. “We were hungry, man, that’s all I can say. We were hungry.”
Mission started off this season with impressive nonconference wins against teams such as Menlo-Atherton and Oakland Tech, but this was the statement game the players had been pointing to since the summer. All five starters returned for a Bears team that surprised many by advancing to the title game a year ago, and the confidence gained from that run has carried over to this season. They were ready for another chance.
“I’m not going to lie, we held a grudge from that championship game,” Foster said. “We heard the hype about Lowell, about Wallenberg. And today, everyone pitched in and did their job.”
Travis Hom scored 22 points to lead Lowell, while teammate Yuhki Sakai had nine rebounds and dished out seven assists.
LOWELL (17-6, 8-2)
MISSION (17-3, 10-0)
Demaree Hampton 27, Harry Howard 20, Grant Thomas 10, Ronell Foster 9, Jordan Pusung 2. Total 68.
Lowell 12 16 13 15 — 56
Mission 19 20 13 16 — 68
3-pointers: L—Hom 2, McNabb 1, Mock 1. M—Hampton 5, Howard 3, Thomas 2. Rebounding leader: M—Foster 20. L—Sakai 9. Assists leader: M—Hampton 4. L—Sakai 7.