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SOLANA BEACH -- The top-seeded Santa Fe Christian Eagles held off a late run by San Marcos on Tuesday night to advance to their third section championship in four seasons. Senior Sam Dudley scored a game high 23 points. San Marcos sophomore guard Devon Arlington led the Knights with 19 points



Santa Fe Christian led 12-9 after one quarter as both teams
were sloppy on offense and failed to get much going. The Eagles were first to
strike, scoring five quick points to open the second quarter, prompting a San
Marcos timeout. The Knights recovered as the quarter went along and strung
together their own run of 11-2 to end the first half and grab a 24-23 lead
heading into the break.

It was Santa Fe Christian who struck first again in the
second half with seven straight points out of the break. The Eagles pushed
their lead up to nine points before San Marcos worked their way back and trailed
36-34 heading into the final quarter.

A three-point basket from Keatten Smith and a two-pointer
from Hayden Gray gave Santa Fe Christian a lead of seven with 1:41 left to play
before the Knights made one last effort.


Down by seven with 1:01 the Knights were forced to foul
Santa Fe Christian and send the Eagles to the line. Santa Fe Christian proceeded
to miss four consecutive free throws, three of them one-and-ones to allow San
Marcos to creep back into the game.

A Christian Littlejohn layup cut the lead to two with 18
seconds remaining. Santa Fe Christian converted on one of two free throws to
keep San Marcos alive. The Knights were able to get a clean look at a three
from Dylan Sandles, but his shot was off and rebounded by Santa Fe Christian.

Hayden Gray was fouled with four-tenths of a second still
left on the clock, giving him two shots. Gray missed both free throws, and the
Knights were awarded a timeout with no time going off of the clock despite not
possessing the ball. The officials talked things over and kept possession with
San Marcos. The Knights had one last try to tie it, but Devon Arlington’s half
court heave wasn’t released in time, ending the San Marcos season.

I don’t think it’s feeling the pressure,” junior
guard Keatten Smith said of his team’s late free throw struggles. “I think it’s
just a rhythm thing, you know being out of rhythm a little bit.”


Santa Fe Christian is into their third division one championship
game in the last four years, having won the title in both 2017 and 2018.

“It’s tradition and it’s culture, the older guys set this up
years ago and we’ve always worked together,” Keatten Smith said. “And the
culture is always good and culture wins championships.”

“It’s pretty special, Coach Bickley’s a great coach, it’s a
great culture and program,” senior Sam Dudley added.

“It’s tradition and it’s culture, the older guys set this up
years ago and we’ve always worked together, and the culture is always good and
culture wins championships.”