MISSION HIGH SCHOOL — Up by one point with under a minute to play, Mission Bears guard Jaraughn Torno pulled up from the right wing and watched his fourth 3-pointer rattle into the basket.
Flexing his arms in front of his body, Torno yelled at the top of his lungs towards the jam-packed bleachers filled with Bears fans as his dagger of a shot sealed another league win for Mission.
While Torno did not lead the Bears in points, assists or rebounds on Monday night, the senior guard’s energy powered Mission to a 79-74 comeback win against their cross-town rival Lincoln Mustangs, extending Mission’s Academic Athletic Association winning streak to 51 games.
“I was pumping us up,” Torno said. “Without energy I can’t really play. I needed something to get us going.”
Three-and-a-half weeks removed from a 19-point win over the Mustangs, Mission was caught off guard in the first half, failing to match Lincoln’s intensity and shooting.
By the beginning of the second quarter, the Mustangs had opened up an 11-point lead, leaving the Bears shell shocked.
“I was like ‘is this really happening?’” Mission guard Ben Knight said.
“I knew beating them by 19 was an aberration,” Bears head coach Arnold Zelaya said. “I kept telling my guys to be prepared because we were going to see a different team and [Lincoln] came ready to play. They jumped on us early.”
Foul trouble plagued Knight in the first half, as he was forced to watch most of the first quarter from the bench after picking up two quick fouls within the first minute of play. Torno was inserted in his place.
While the 5-foot-7 point guard only scored three points in the first quarter, his impact was felt in the second quarter as he sparked a 7-0 run, reeling Mission back into the game.
As Mission forced seven Lincoln turnovers in the second quarter, Torno was often in the middle of the chaos, picking the pockets of his defensive assignments.
“[Defense has] been a point of weakness for him, honestly, for three years,” Zelaya said. “He’s worked his butt off to get better defensively so I’m really proud of where he’s at.”
Closing the gap to just two points by halftime, Mission carried the momentum to finish the second quarter into the third.=
While Torno, who played all but one second half minute, kept the pressure applied defensively, Knight was back to create on the offensive side of the ball.
Scoring six of his 21 points in the third, Knight would help Mission take their first lead of the game. Just as they did in earlier in the game, the Bears would need Torno’s fire to finish off the comeback.
Unable to create any distance from Lincoln, Mission exchanged the lead with the Mustangs nine times before the final minute of regulation.
Up 74-72, Torno found himself open on the right wing as his defender closed out. Bears fans gasped while the shot left his hands, then erupted when it rattled home. Torno responded with a battle cry of his own.
“This is my last regular season home game. I had to let the crowd know to remember me,” Torno said. “I wanted to win bad. I wasn’t going to break that streak.”
The Bears, with their 51st straight win in AAA play, will be the No. 1 seed in league playoffs, which tip off on Feb. 14.
“People take pride in [the streak]. Alumni take pride in [the streak],” Zelaya said. “Part of my pregame was like ‘Hey, the streak if for you guys.’ It’s a good problem to have.”