No team in the Mt. Baldy League can claim to have been there before. Well, at least not in the last seven years.
The Colony High School boys basketball team didn’t secure its seventh consecutive league championship until the regular season finale Thursday night but the Titans played like they had been there before, pulling away in the fourth quarter for a 69-55 victory over Montclair.
Junior Kennieth Barnes led the Titans (19-8, 11-1) with 19 points and 15 rebounds, but it was the seniors who took over down the stretch. Senior guard Miles Poullard scored five of his 12 points during a 17-3 fourth-quarter run, including a 3-pointer to give Colony a 62-53 lead with 2:43 to play. Senior small forward Marcus Magett scored four of his seven points during the decisive run that began with Colony trailing by two nearly two minutes into the final quarter.
Perhaps it was an appropriate way for the Titans to claim the league crown, seeing as this was the only of those seven seasons during which Colony spent time in second place. The Titans have lost just two league games in seven years, one of which was a two-point loss at Don Lugo Jan. 6.
“I think this one is sweeter because this is the first time we’ve had to chase it,” Colony head coach Jerry De Fabiis said. “I knew it was going to be a close game but it was our senior leadership down the stretch. That’s what it takes to make a playoff run and that’s what it takes to win a league title.”
Montclair’s Devyn Sampson scored 20 of his 26 points in the first half and his put-back with 6:30 to play put the Cavaliers (21-3, 9-3) ahead, 51-49.
Colony’s Everett Turner, who had 14 points and eight rebounds, began the 17-3 run the next trip down the court. Montclair employed a triangle-and-two defense in an attempt to shut off Turner and Poullard, frustrating Poullard into two first-quarter fouls. Both players, however, played a large role in the fourth quarter.
“To be honest their defense was working early on,” Poullard said. “But you could see their legs go out from under them. No team in Southern California can run with us for 48 minutes.”
Second-place Don Lugo split the season series with Colony but a forfeit to Montclair, due to ineligible players participating in a Jan. 9 game, cost the Conquistadores a share of the league championship. Montclair began the season with 12 consecutive wins and was in first place in league before Colony handed it a 31-point loss in their first meeting.