Prep boys basketball: No. 13 Escondido High stuns No. 4 Poway
By Michael Bower
Sam Beeler did not envision his stellar four-year career at Poway High coming to an end the way it did Tuesday night.
The 6-foot-10 UC Santa Barbara-bound center especially didn’t see it coming after the No. 4 Titans opened an 11-2 lead in the first five minutes against No. 13 Escondido — a team Poway beat by 17 points earlier this season.
But in the blink of an eye, the Cougars stole the show and the game.
Escondido went on a 38-15 run after trailing by nine and led by as many as 21 during a 78-67 upset of the host Titans in front of a small turnout of Poway fans for a first-round CIF San Diego Section Division I playoff game.
“I am very disappointed,” said Beeler, who finished with a game-high 27 points and nearly brought his team all the way back with 13 points in the fourth quarter. “We just got in such a deep hole that we couldn’t get out of it.”
The 78 points the Titans (19-11) gave up was the second most it has allowed this season (80 points to Lodi on Dec. 30). Seventeen of those points came by the Cougars’ Nathan Wicka, who hit three of his five 3-pointers in the huge second quarter. The Cougars hit seven treys in all, but also had several easy layups.
“I think we just got comfortable too quickly,” Beeler said. “We let them climb back in the game really quick and we didn’t respond. They were making everything and we weren’t making any shots.”
Escondido moves on to the quarterfinals, where it will face No. 5 Vista. Meanwhile, Poway’s season and Beeler’s prep career came to an end.
“I am happy with the career I had here at Poway,” Beeler said. “I wish we could have gone further in the playoffs, but I had a fantastic time playing here at Poway.”
The Cougars did their best to let the Titans back in the game in the fourth quarter. Escondido went just 9-for-18 from the free-throw line. Poway finally gave the hometown fans something to cheer about, when Beeler’s putback dunk cut the deficit to four with 53 seconds left.
But Poway was unable to get any closer as Escondido hit 4-of-5 free throws in the final minute to put the game away. Derek Babiash had 13 points and was the only other Poway player in double figures.
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