Isaiah Henderson scored 19 points and Derek Check had 16 points to lead the Independence High boys basketball team to a 70-50 win over Garces in the title game of the Garces Holiday Hoops Challenge on Saturday night.
The Falcons (15-1) jumped ahead early and never trailed in picking up their 10th straight win.
"That was a great team," Independence coach Stan Davis said. "I'm really proud of our guys. They battled. Any time you beat Garces, it's a good win for your program."
Sheldon Croney paced Garces (9-4) with 15 points.
Independence, one of the top contenders in Division III, led 52-34 after three quarters.
In the third-place game, a hot start and strong finish weren't quite enough for Bakersfield High against Tulare-Mission Oak.
Despite building a nine-point first-quarter lead and outscoring the Hawks 18-17 in the final period, BHS lost 57-54 in front of a large, boisterous crowd at the Garces gym.
B.J. Shelton had 16 points and Stephon Newsome chipped in 10 for the Drillers, who led for all of the first half after Jonah Brown gave them a 3-2 lead at the 6:49 mark of the first quarter with a 3-pointer from the left wing.
Shortly after falling behind 46-36 early in the fourth quarter on Blake Shannon's driving layup, BHS (12-5) went on 15-4 spurt, highlighted by a pair of Latrelle Marchbanks 3-pointers, to grab a 51-50 lead.
The two teams swapped the lead three more times after that until Mission Oak (12-3) took over for good on a pair of Shannon free throws with 58.5 seconds left in the game.
“I’m proud of my guys,” BHS coach Greg Burt said. “We played hard, went through adversity, battled back and had a chance to win.”
Shannon, Mission Oak’s lone All-Tournament selection, finished with a game high 19 points and dished out numerous assists to the Hawks big-men inside. Mission Oak outscored BHS 31-20 in the second and third quarter combined.
Down 28-26 at halftime, the Hawks grabbed their first lead of the second half, 29-28, when Matt Zorn swished a 3-pointer from the left wing just 33 seconds into the third quarter.
From there, Mission Oak continued to extend its advantage as Shannon continually drove the lane and fed teammates inside for easy baskets.
Burt attributed the Drillers third-quarter problems to foul trouble.
“Our big kid (Steven Contreras) got his third foul with two seconds left in the first half,” Burt said, “so we had to sit him the first four minutes of the third quarter and we just lost our poise a little bit.”
Darian Warfer, the recipient of three Shannon third-quarter assists, came off the bench to score a season-high 12 points.
BHS jumped out to a quick 16-9 lead, making three early 3-pointers and converting several Mission Oak turnovers into fastbreak layups.
The Drillers held on to all but one point of that margin until Mission Oak closed out the first half on a 11-5 run.
“It’s always tough to lose, but we haven’t even started league yet,” Burt said. “And we think that once we get some more practice time and our young kids get more opportunities, we're going to be just fine.”
Arguably the most exciting game of the day was Mira Monte’s double-overtime, 84-78 victory over West for fifth place.
Braxton Huggins led the Lions with 25 points. Elray Coleman had 38 points for the Vikings, including three game-tying free throws with 4.2 seconds remaining in the first overtime period.
Coleman's clutch shots from the line came after was Huggins fouled him in the act of shooting behind the 3-point line.