The Mira Costa boys basketball team relied all year on toughness and ability to fight through adversity.
Friday night in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 2A playoffs, the Mustangs were fighting an uphill battle all night long against visiting Pacifica Christian of Newport Beach.
Despite getting down by as much as 13 in the second half, Mira Costa was able to rally to get within three points thanks to the play of senior Max McCalla who scored 15 of his team-high 21 in the second half.
However, Pacifica Christian (22-7) just had too many weapons as senior Timmy Bahadoor took over in the final two minutes to close out Mira Costa (20-9) scoring seven straight points in the final two minutes to help the Tritons hold on for a 81-74 victory.
After falling behind by 10 in the first six minutes of the game thanks to hot-shooting by junior Houston Mallette, who scored 11 first quarter points. Mustangs’ Dylan Black answered with three consecutive three-pointers to cut the Tritons lead to 22-20 after one quarter.
Mallette kept firing for Pacifica Christian in the second quarter hitting two more 3’s. Elijah Pascal and Rhyan Jiwani pushed the lead to seven and the Tritons took a five-point lead into the locker room.
Charles Evans and Mallette scored the first 13 points of the third quarter for Pacifica Christian as it again built a double-digit lead at 55-45 with 2:44 to play in the third quarter.
That’s when McCalla put the Mustangs on his back scoring seven points in a row to cut the lead to three.
“I thought we played pretty well, but they seemed to hit every shot,” McCalla said. “I think we kept competing on both ends really hard. I think we fought until the end and went out the way we wanted to playing hard until the end.”
In the fourth quarter it was more of the same as Evans hit two more 3-pointers and Mallette hit his seventh and final three of the night to put the Tritons out 11 with five minutes to play.
Mira Costa went on one final run cut the lead to three on a Tyler Antrobius three with 1:40 to play, but that’s when Bahadoor closed the door with three straight baskets and the Mustangs dream season was over.
“We just put our heads down and worked hard and the guys started to buy into our defensive philosophy and we were able to go on a run and win Bay League which was great,” Perlmutter said. “Max went out and played the best game of his career in his final game as a senior which helped keep us in it. We will be back next season.”