San Pedro High Boys Basketball Holds Off Rancho Dominguez

It was a high wire act all the way through until the final buzzer but in the end, it all came up on the right side of history for San Pedro High boys basketball.

By virtue of their 76-74 victory over visiting Rancho Dominguez Prep in the first-ever Marine League meeting between the two schools Friday, it netted 18-year head coach John Bobich his 500th career victory and an even more crucial victory for the Pirates who are currently the top ranked CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division 2 team via MaxPreps. San Pedro (11-6 overall, 1-1 league) was locked in a real dogfight with the Lobos (8-12, 1-1) but somehow survived. 

Bobich, in his long standing prep coaching career, has won seven CIF Section titles (5 at Pacific Hills, 2 at San Pedro) to go along with two CIF Southern California Regional championships, and a CIF State Division 5 title with Pacific Hills in 1998, while also coaching San Pedro to a Marine League crown in 2009.

As for the Pirates themselves, they worked above and beyond to garner a big time league win after letting an eight-point fourth quarter lead get away in a 69-58 loss at Narbonne in their league opener Wednesday.

The hot shooting of senior guard Jesse March got the Pirates off and running in the first quarter as he drilled three consecutive three-pointers at one point which helped San Pedro hold a narrow 20-18 lead at quarter's end. Rancho Dominguez Prep senior Anthony Gamboa got the crowd electrified with a thunderous two-handed rebound slam dunk midway through the quarter.

In the second quarter, which was also nip and tuck, Gamboa struck again with another fast break dunk but the combined efforts of sophomore guard Mekhi Bentley and junior forward Ian Hietala in which they scored a combined 19 of the Pirates' 23 points in the period, would be more than enough for San Pedro to hold to a 43-36 halftime advantage.

Rancho Dominguez Prep would outscore San Pedro 19-8 to begin the second half and take a 55-51 lead at the end of the third quarter, but that would represent the largest lead of the game the entire night for the Lobos.

Crunch time was all over the place in an exciting fourth quarter due to three lead changes and three ties, but the Price would definitely be right for the Pirates in the form of senior guard Myles Price, who energized the team with his hard-nosed effort on both ends.

First, Price intercepts an inbound pass then takes it the length of the floor for a coast-to-coast layup with 3:20 to play for a 67-65 San Pedro lead. Then after another steal, Price was fouled but only made one of two free throws for a 71-67 lead with 1:58 left in the game. When the Lobos tied the score at 72 with 1:16 left on a conventional three-point play, Price put the Pirates ahead again at 74-72 with 1:04 to play by scoring on a backdoor layup off a great feed from Hietala.

It was all tied up again at 74 once Rancho Dominguez Prep forced a turnover and regained possession with 32.6 remaining, and San Pedro would get their last big spark from the one who started off the spectacular fourth quarter with his last of four three-point field goals.

After nearly intercepting a dangerous cross court pass, Bentley would get a steal from behind and then get the outlet pass from Hietala, promptly laying it in with his left hand with 11.6 left. Gamboa would draw a foul from March who tried to draw a charge, but Gamboa missed the first free throw before intentionally missing the second attempt with 3.8 left. 

When March touched the ball last trying to secure the rebound, there was 0.5 left on the clock which ran out on instinct, but once the Lobos got to inbound underneath their own basket, there was 2.5 seconds showing. Still, Rancho Dominguez Prep shot an air-ball from the right corner on the potential game-winning three-pointer before time finally expired, allowing the Pirates to escape with the victory.

Bentley scored a game-high 24 points off the bench to lead San Pedro, who had three other players in double figures. Senior forward Anson Panton registered another double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds, while Hietala scored 13 points (9 in the second quarter) and March scored 12 to go along with seven assists.

San Pedro will next face Gardena at home on Monday at 4:30 pm.

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