By Michael Bower
One minute is all it took for the Poway High boys basketball team to turn a game that appeared to be slipping away into a victory.
The Titans turned an eight-point deficit into a three-point lead over a 60-second span in the fourth quarter, and then held on to beat rival Rancho Bernardo 56-50 Friday night in front of an energetic crowd at Poway High School.
Poway (9-13, 2-2 Palomar League) trailed nearly the entire way before outscoring the Broncos 16-2 in the final 3:30 to make it five straight victories over its rival.
The Titans’ zone defense caused several Broncos turnovers and led to two three-point plays over a span of 60 seconds in the fourth quarter. Poway took the lead for good with 2:30 left, when Andrew Semirani converted what ended up being a four-point play.
The senior forward went in for a layup off a fastbreak and was fouled from behind. He made the layup and the foul was ruled intentional. After he sunk the extra free throw, Poway held a 51-48 advantage – its first since leading 3-2 about two minutes into the first quarter.
“The energy in this building, the change from man to zone defense at the end and just really attacking the basket really helped us pick it up,” said Poway point guard Tom Erb, who finished with a team-high 19 points. “It feels great to get this win.”
Rancho Bernardo led by as many as nine points and entered the final quarter up 42-36. Bryan Zhu’s putback stretched the lead to 48-40 with just 3:30 left, but that’s when Poway’s zone defense forced a bundle of turnovers and the comeback was on.
Matt Robinson drilled a 3-pointer and Erb, Shemirani and Tyler Green each had three-point plays to highlight the dramatic finish for the Titans. Green came up huge with 17 points and Robinson finished with 10 on a night when the team’s leading scorer Dalton Soffer did not play.
Rancho Bernardo was led by Dillon Wirkus’ 14 points, including two 3-pointers. He was the only Broncos player in double figures. Zhu finished with eight points, while Michael Searson added seven for Rancho Bernardo (6-16, 0-4).