With his team clinging to a three-point lead heading into the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s CIF-SS Division 2A first-round playoff game against San Clemente, Mira Costa guard Max McCalla knew it was time to focus.
“We just felt like it was time to win the game,” McCalla said. “We locked in.”
Mira Costa put together an 11-0 run to start the fourth and went on to a 49-42 win over San Clemente at El Segundo High.
Mira Costa (20-8) will host Pacifica Christian of Newport Beach in Friday’s second round. The game will be played at El Segundo High.
Kick, who finished with eight points and eight rebounds, hit a fast break layup before Will Householter’s finger roll gave the Mustangs a 12-point advantage.
Tyler Antobius finished with 12 points.
Mira Costa coach Neal Perlmutter felt the Mustangs’ success on Wednesday was due in large part to its play on the defensive end.
“We’re a defensive team first, and I feel like that pulled us through in the fourth quarter,” Perlmutter said.
Perlmutter noted he saw similarities in Wednesday’s game to Mira Costa’s 54-43 Bay League-finale loss to Redondo last week.
“We strayed away from our defensive principles (against Redondo) in the second half,” Perlmutter said. “We went back to our fundamentals of packing the line and we were able to get stops and force turnovers.”
Having done its homework on San Clemente (17-13), Perlmutter said he knew the Tritons relied heavily on the 3-point shot.
Against Mira Costa, San Clemente made only two 3-pointers.
“We scouted their plays and figured out who their top two players (Max Rumph and Jack Carroll) were,” McCalla said. “We knew they shot a lot of 3-pointers, and we had to contest.”
Rumph led the Tritons with 13 points, including seven in the third quarter, while Carroll finished with eight.
The Mustangs jumped out to a 6-0 lead before heading into the second quarter up 12-4.
“That loss against Redondo sucked,” McCalla said. “I feel like it may have been a good thing, it made us hungrier.”
San Clemente pulled within six points at halftime, and Rumph’s scoop layup with 55 seconds left in the third cut Mira Costa’s lead to 34-33.
Mira Costa’s defense locked in during the fourth, holding San Clemente without a field goal until the final minute of the game. By that time, the Mustangs had opened up a 14-point margin.
“I felt like we competed on defense three out of the four quarters,” Perlmutter said. “We had a lapse in the third, but we dug in during the fourth.”