By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
A forgettable scene in the moments following Northview High Schools’ 59-56 victory over San Dimas will be addressed on Monday, Saints vice principal Rita Kear said – an ugly way to end a thrilling comeback that came up short for the Saints. A series of calls — including back-to-back technicals — were simply to much for Saints boys basketball coach Bruce Robbins to stomach in the seconds following Northview’s victory. (To continue, click thread)
Robbins hurried across the court after the officials as they were exiting the building, with guard K.J. Byrd following close behind and several others from the Saints bench rushing over as well.
Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed as coaches and administrators cleared what could have turned into a much uglier situation.
Vikings coach Ron Rice was almost at a loss for words as the Vikings blew a nine-point lead with 4:15 left, then recaptured it with seven big free throws down the stretch to pull it out.
Northview, looking for its fourth straight Valle Vista League title, improved to 12-7 and 2-0 while the Saints dropped to 9-8 and 1-1.
“I’m not sure what happened to tell you the truth, there was so much going on,” Rice said. “There were poor plays, good plays, big calls by officials going both ways.
“But I don’t know what to make of the ending, it was just chaos.”
With the Saints trailing 52-43 with less than five minutes left, Chris Barbato and Byrd hit back-to-back 3-pointers, and a couple steals and conversions gave the Saints a 53-52 lead with 1:49 left.
After the Vikings took the lead back 54-53 on a pair of free throws, Barbato, who finished with a game-high 19 points, hit a 3-pointer to give the Saints a 56-54 lead with 1:27 left.
Barbato then appeared to get a quick steal, but was called for a foul on Vikings guard Zack Ward.
That was one of several calls down the stretch that irked Robbins as Ward made both free throws to tie the game, 56-56 with 1:18 left.
After a turnover and another call went against the Saints, a technical was called on Barbato, then another technical on Barbato who kept arguing the play, resulting in four free throws and the ball for Northview.
Ward made two of the four at the stripe, giving the Vikings a 58-56 lead with 48 seconds left.
Leading 59-56 after a Kameron Germany free throw with 26 seconds left, the Saints had a final chance to tie it, but Byrd’s 3-pointer came up short and was knocked toward mid-court as the final seconds ticked away.
The Saints called timeout in hopes of getting it back, but the officials ruled they never had possession and ended the game, which is when Robbins hustled over to the officials.
“At times it felt like we were playing against more than five guys on the floor,” Robbins said. “I wasn’t (going after) the officials, I wanted to talk, but it was emotional, and looked worse than it was, I think.”
Kear, however, addressed what happened.
“Our coaches and students were frustrated with some calls and our coach went to talk to the ref and … he was upset with the officials obviously,” Kear said. “But there is no excuse for what happened, we don’t tolerate that.”
The Vikings received a game-high 16 points from Brian Johnson and had to rally from a 31-20 second-quarter deficit by scoring the final seven points of the half to make it 31-27 at the break.
“The spurt before halftime with the press was the key for us, that got us back in the game,” Rice said. “I thought that kind of carried us through the third quarter and into the fourth, then it was just a who-wanted-it-more game in the final minutes.”