The Mission Bears boys’ basketball team sent a friendly reminder to Academic Athletic Association opponents before the league playoffs Tuesday night at Washington High School: The championship goes through Mission High School.
The Bears spoiled Senior Night for Washington with a 77-66 win on the Eagles’ home floor.
In a game that determined Lang Division’s top seed, the Bears (21-9, 15-1) rode the hot hand of Gione Edwards.
Edwards had a breakout game with a team-high 28 points, 10 rebounds and seven steals, leading the Bears into the playoffs with a 12-game winning streak.
“I want to give [thanks] to my teammates, because if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have been in [position] to score 28 points,” Edwards said. “We just played hard as a team. This feels good knowing that we might see them again in the championship.”
Washington (22-9, 14-2) blew past the Bears 89-66 the last time the teams met on Jan. 18.
This contest was the polar opposite for the Eagles.
Washington committed 29 turnovers, 19 in the first half, and fell behind 30-15 midway through the second quarter.
“The moment after our first meeting, we knew that they were going to be ready to play,” said Washington coach Jolinko Lassiter. “We didn’t match their intensity tonight, and that was the biggest key.”
Mission’s 13-3 run to start the second quarter put them up 28-15. The Bears maintained control going into halftime up 36-26.
Standout senior guard Brenden Glapion tried to single-handily bring the Eagles back, scoring 15 points in the third frame, but it was one sequence in the third that was a microcosm of the entire game.
After Glapion brought Washington within 11 points with a layup, Washington forced a missed shot, but they turned the ball over on a careless pass under their basket — right into the hands of Edwards — who would hit the layup as he got fouled, then completed the 3-point play to put the Bears up 51-37.
“It was tough, we turned the ball over [numerous] times,” Lassiter said. “It’s a bad game to have, but for us to be successful, we have to take this game and focus on what we did wrong. It’s going to be a great two days of practice before our first playoff game.”
Washington did cut Mission’s lead to 64-55 with 3:43 left, but two missed layups and another Bears steal that were converted into a layup was all the defending AAA champs would need to seal it.
Mission coach Arnold Zelaya was in no mood to celebrate the division championship, instead focusing on the playoffs, in which a loss will signal the end of the season.
“Gione is finally starting to feel 100 percent from offseason knee surgery, and he played hard,” Zelaya said. “We were aggressive tonight, but we’re still not where I need us to be. This really was just another regular-season game. It’s nice to get the division championship, but the games start counting now.”
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