Victor Bryant – PRESIDIO SPORTS CORRESPONDENT – 6/10/2009
The Pasadena Slam used a strong fourth-quarter surge to upset the Santa Barbara Breakers 108-105 at San Marcos High School Saturday.
The Breakers were playing catch up for the majority of the night as they struggled to stay with the Slam’s Fantastic trio of Larry Williams, Eric Holmes and Mo Spiller, who scored 24, 21 and 19 points respectively.
“We did not play defense in the clutch minutes, and I am talking about the fourth quarter,” said Breakers head Coach Curt Pickering.
The loss dropped Santa Barbara to 10-3 on the season, two games in front of the second-place Ventura County Jets.
Both teams came out firing early in the game as Josh Merrill converted three shots from downtown in the opening quarter to pace the Breakers. Aided by a perfect inbound pass by Tito Mays, Justin Johnson made a running buzzer-beater from well behind the three-point line to give Santa Barbara a 30-28 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Breakers got huge contributions from Leonard Mosley and Mark Dawson in the second period, as both players displayed the energy and athleticism necessary to match up with Slam on the defensive end. “I’m going to play defense. Even if I can”t get any offense going, I can always play defense,” said Mosley.
Jeremy Vague’s dunk with 59 seconds remaining in the half gave the Breakers a one-point lead, but four straight points by the Slam made the score 57-54 Slam at the break. The Slam opened the third quarter on an 11-5 run to go up 68-59 with 7:00 minutes remaining in the third, but Pickering inserted Mosley and Dawson and the Breakers closed the score to 73-71 on a Josh Merrill three-pointer with 3:03 remaining in the third.
“I’m competitive,” Dawson said. “I’m trying to get the rebound every time.”
The Slam went on a 10-2 run to close the third quarter up 83-77.
The teams went back and forth in the fourth quarter. Mosley fed Mark Dawson for an easy lay-up to give the Breakers their largest lead of the quarter, 94-89, with 7:02 remaining.
Pickering inserted his starters with 6:06 remaining and the Breakers leading 94-92, but the Slam went on an 8-2 run culminating in a Holmes three-pointer over Tim Taylor that gave the visitors a 100-96 edge. Johnson drained two consecutive pull-up jumpers to tie the score at 100 with two minutes remaining.
The Breakers trailed 106-105 with 20 seconds remaining when Dawson blocked Slam guard Darwin Carter’s lay-up attempt, but Boone grabbed the rebound and dunked to make the score 108-105.
After a timeout, the Breakers set up a three-point attempt for Josh Merrill that grazed off the side of the rim. Merrill went 0-4 from three-point range in the fourth quarter.
“Honestly, I think taking a loss right now will kind of help us,” Mosley said. “It should help us focus on the game tomorrow.”
The Breakers play the Newport Beach Surf at 2 p.m. Sunday at San Marcos High School in their regular season finale.