There are halftime speeches and then there are halftime speeches.
Palm Desert trailed Salesian 30-15 at halftime in their second game of the Rancho Mirage Holiday Invitational on Wednesday, when coach James Serven and the coaching stuff made a defensive adjustment. Let’s just say it worked. The Aztecs outscored Salesian 18-0 in the third quarter and then used a buzzer-beating layup at the end of regulation for an improbable 42-40 victory.
With six seconds to go in a tie game, Will Struthers drove to the basket and dished it to JD Menning for the game-winning layup as the buzzer sounded.
Menning led the Aztecs with 14 rebounds, 10 points and three steals. Devin Lopez had 14 points and seven rebounds and Struthers scored nine points.
The Aztecs are now 8-4 and hope to finish pool play unbeaten Thursday when they play Palo Verde at 2:30 p.m. at Xavier Prep High School.
Final Four set
MaxPreps Open Bracket: Top seed Chino Hills held serve and advanced to the open division semifinals with a 108-93 win over WoodCreek. They will face Pleasant Grove, a team from Utah, at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Rancho Mirage High School. Pleasant Grove ousted Arch Bishop Mitty, a top team from California. The other semifinal will pit Crossroads, which gritted out another low-scoring win over Capital Christian, against Sheldon. Sheldon is a California school that took down Harvard Westlake in an impressive quarterfinal victory. That game will follow the Chino Hills-Pleasant Grove game.
More local efforts
Rancho Mirage 65, Mount Si (Wash.) 55: Charles Neal led the Rattlers with 27 points for the team’s first pool play victory of the tournament. Koby Alvarez followed with 12 points, along with 10 from Bryan Talley. The Rattlers (11-2) play Thursday against Torrance at 11 a.m. in the Rancho Mirage small gym.
Viewpoint 86, Palm Valley 19: The Firebirds (3-5) dropped their second blowout loss in pool play Wednesday. Palm Valley will face Sacramento Adventist Academy Thursday at Xavier Prep at 11:30 p.m.
Xavier Prep 43, Sacramento Adventist Academy 41: The Saints picked up their second pool play victory in a tight game Wednesday in their home gym. Xavier Prep (5-7) will face Viewpoint Thursday at 10 a.m. for a shot to play in the pool play title game.
Liberty 84, Cathedral City 39: The Lions dropped their second pool play game Wednesday afternoon. Cathedral City (5-6) will close out pool play Thursday at 4 p.m. as they host Sierra Vista (Nev.).
Canyon Springs Las Vegas 78, Indio 49: The Rajahs fell short in the Rancho Mirage Holiday Invitational despite 18 points from Christian Briceno and 17 from Jeremiah Brown. Indio (7-7) hosts Lake Washington at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday.