As the first-half clock wound down Saturday in the championship game of the Lloyd Williams boys basketball tournament at North High, Stephon Newsome rose up and released his rainbow jump shot.
This time, the arc went too far -- then crashed off the backboard and fell through the hoop.
It was that kind of night for Newsome and the Drillers, who beat Liberty 61-51 for the their second straight Lloyd Williams title, with both championship victories coming against the Patriots.
Newsome hit five 3-pointers and finished with 25 points to go with six assists and three steals. He was named the tournament MVP.
"You just never know what a kid is going to do," Bakersfield coach Greg Burt said. "If he misses those early shots, we would have had to find another way. But with this team, it seems like we would have."
Burt praised the chemistry of this group, which lost star guards Tyrone Wallace and Derrick Brown from last year's roster but is off to a 5-1 start.
"I didn't think we would get better by subtraction, but I'm really proud of our guys," he said. "Still, we've got to get better.
"As good as this week was, we're going to have to prove it again."
After Newsome hit back-to-back 3s to give BHS a 14-10 lead, Liberty scored the final seven points of the first quarter. But Jacob Martin, the Patriots' leading scorer, picked up his second foul less than a minute into the second. He went to the bench, and Liberty (5-4) went into a funk. The Patriots scored just three points in the quarter while the Drillers ripped off 15, taking a 29-20 lead into halftime that they never gave back.
Liberty coach A.J. Shearon said he thought Newsome's hot early shooting, combined with Martin's foul trouble, made his team panic.
"It's a credit to (Newsome); he had a big game," Shearon said. "We were willing to give him that shot. But I thought it was more about our focus and energy. We weren't where we needed to be the entire night. The offense shouldn't need Jake to go 1-on-1. When you rely on that, you're going to be in trouble. But I think panic set in and we kind of reverted to that."
Bakersfield stretched the lead to as many as 16 points before Liberty made a fourth-quarter run. The Patriots scored the first 10 points of the fourth to pull within 50-45, but then Newsome struck again.
After Steven Contreras, who finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, scored on a putback, Newsome hit his fifth 3-pointer, then stole the inbounds pass and dished to B.J. Shelton, who was fouled and hit a free throw. Just like that, the five-point lead had ballooned back to 11.
"We fight every day in practice, and we just take that mentality out here," said Contreras, who was named to the all-tournament team. "We just have that mindset, and it's giving us a lot of confidence."
Kyle Ferreira and Martin, who finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds, were Liberty's all-tournament selections.
Another all-tournament player, Derek Check, had a triple-double for Independence in a 63-37 win over Frontier in the third-place game, a night after the Falcons lost in overtime to Bakersfield in the semifinals. Check finished with 13 points, 10 assists and 10 steals.
Garces beat East 74-54 for fifth place behind 26 points from Rashad Jackson, another all-tournament player.
Golden Valley downed Centennial 54-36 to complete a four-game run to the consolation championship after a first-round loss.
The all-Southwest Yosemite League final four -- which didn't even include Stockdale, which returns four starters but played in a tournament on the coast this weekend -- underscored how competitive the league could be.
"It's probably the most balanced league I've seen in a long time," Burt said. "Our coaching staff has already decided you're going to need a lot of 65-63 wins . I wish it was February when we'd be having this conversation, because teams will change a lot between now and then."
But right now, it's surprising Bakersfield, minus their stars from last year, at the top of the heap.
"These guys don't know anything different than hard work," Burt said. "And I think this week proved to them that what we do in practice pays off in these moments."