Bishop Amat Shuts Down Palm Desert

A gritty, undersized Palm Desert team fought tooth and nail with Bishop Amat for the better part of four quarters Saturday morning in the CIF-SS Div. III-AA final. But ahead by a single point with 2:30 left, the Lancers used their height advantage and a heavy dose of momentum to run off 14 straight points and put the game away.

"The final score was 47-35 Bishop Amat, but the outcome was in doubt until an electrifying sequence late in the contest. Senior forward Jonathon Haywood took a rebound and went coast to coast for one bucket. And Paul Porter followed with a steal, swept the ball behind his back and scored off the window to seal the win.

"Until that time, Palm Desert (25-5) had been able to execute coach Don Brady's game plan to slow the game and value every possession.

"Haywood and Porter are great players in transition," he explained. "We tried to stop them from doing that. I felt we were successful for three quarters, but allowed that to happen in the fourth quarter."

Haywood paced Amat (25-6) with 15 points and eight rebounds. Porter added 14, while George Balderas, a 6-7 senior center, had a strong floor game with eight rebounds and four blocked shots. It was Amat's first-ever CIF title and first appearance in a championship game since 1988.

"Donald Brady paced Palm Desert with 18 points while leading scorer Josh Zazulia added 12, but shot just 3-of-15 from the floor and 6-of-11 from the charity stripe. As a team, the Aztecs shot only 25 percent from the floor, perhaps on account of the large environs of the Pond, but Zazulia refused to make any excuses.

""It's just another gym," he said. "We should be able to play in all different environments. The gym shouldn't matter."

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