Don Lugo holds on, qualifies for the playoffs

I’m a big fan of one-game playoffs, especially in basketball, and Thursday’s Don Lugo-Ontario contest in the Mt. Baldy League didn’t let me down.

If you are unaware, it was actually a three-way tie in the league for second, with Ontario, Don Lugo and Montclair. Montclair won a coin flip and got second, while Don Lugo and Ontario had to play off for third.

Don Lugo blew all of a 15-point third quarter lead before they could get to the fourth, but all Ontario could do was tie twice in he second half, 50-50 and 67-67. Don Lugo eventually won 71-69, although Ontario had two possessions in the final minute with a chance to tie or take the lead.

It was actually the fourth time the teams met this season, splitting the season series. Ontario won the first game, in the Azusa Tournament in December, 61-37, but the last three games have all been decided by four points or less.

Not to be overlooked was the night by Ontario’s Brandon Tuggle, who scored a season-high 41 points, and made 16 of 30 field goals, and nine of 13 free throws. Tuggle, a 6-foot-6 senior forward, didn’t make a single 3-pointer, so he had to earn his points the hard way. He also had 12 rebounds. And by the way, he had 31 points and nine rebounds after halftime, including 17 points on seven-of-eight shooting in the third quarter.

Don Lugo’s Steven Bethley had a solid night, too, with 25 points, although he could’ve put the game away a little earlier if he had made more than one of seven free throws in the second half. Bethley finished nine of 17 from the line.

The game was a foul-fest, although the intensity of the game didn’t seem to be bothered by the interruption of free throws. Don Lugo made 17 of 29 free throws in the game, while Ontario made 15 of 23.

Although Don Lugo seemingly needed the win more because the Conquistadores’ credentials were weaker than Ontario’s for an at-large berth, both teams played the second half like their playoff lives depended on it.