By Will Hernandez~SGV Tribune
LA VERNE — Los Altos junior guard Jarod Lucas made it clear to his teammates during the team’s final timeout Saturday that he wanted the ball.
The Conquerors (10-2), who trailed Roosevelt of Eastvale 58-57 with 2.1 seconds remaining, drew up a play to give Lucas an opportunity to put up the basketball equivalent of a Hail Mary.
“That last play was exactly how we designed it,” Los Altos coach Jeff Lucas said. “A little screen for Jarod at half court. We told the guys that ‘whoever catches the ball probably has time for one dribble and get it up.’”
Fortunately for Los Altos, Jarod never hesitated from getting the last opportunity to put his team over the top against a quality opponent in Roosevelt.
“I told one of the guys, ‘Make sure you hit me. I’m going to hit this,’” he said.
He delivered on his word. After receiving the inbound pass, he launched a shot from half court and for him, there was never any doubt about whether or not the ball was going in the basket.
“The moment I put that ball up it felt good in my hands,” Jarod Lucas said.
“Actually when I released it I said ‘that’s in.’ Then I started running (to get the rebound) and then it went in. It was a great moment for us and our team and it’s something we’ve been working on since the third grade.”
Behind Jarod Lucas’ game-winner and game-high 18 points, Los Altos defeated Roosevelt 60-58 in the Classic at Damien Gold Division championship game.
Although it was a tough way for the Mustangs (11-1) to suffer their first loss of the season, there isn’t a lot for their coach Stephen Singleton to be disappointed about.
“We battled,” Singleton said. “It came down to a last-second halfcourt shot and I said, ‘You know what, if they beat us on that then I tip my hat to them.’ Jarod Lucas is a really good player man. The kid can flat out shoot and he kept his team into it time and time again.”
Roosevelt was led by senior forward Jared Williams. The 6-foot-6 big man utilized his size advantage against Los Altos defenders, putting together a double-double performance with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
For practically the entire game, the Conquerors did not have an answer for stopping Williams, who connected on seven of his eight field-oal attempts.
Similar to the Conquerors, when the Mustangs were down to their last offensive possession and trailing by two, it was inevitable who they were going to want to get the ball to.
“We knew we had the height advantage on him,” Singleton said. “We just wanted to get the ball to (Williams). He had seal position the whole time and we missed him first with one of the guys who missed the pass and then we just threw it to him. When you got a guy like him down low, just throw it to him and let him go to work.”
Williams did go to work and hit a go-ahead field goal off the glass, which put Roosevelt in position for the victory with 2.1 seconds left to play.
“We had them kind of stifled there on defense in that last possession and they were kind of running around,” Jeff Lucas said. “(Roosevelt) didn’t have much going on and just threw it into the post and got that bucket and we call a timeout and it’s kind of when we decided to call the play and sometimes you need a little luck too.”
There were six lead changes in the final 1:30 of the game.
“We played a great tournament, I think we deserved that win,” Jeff Lucas said. “They’re a great team but it felt good to get that win.”
Senior Julian Lopez finished the game with 13 points and Bryant Howing added 12 points and four rebounds for Los Altos.