Indio boys' hoops falls short in playoffs

Indio boys' hoops falls short in playoffs

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Indio boys' hoops falls short in playoffs

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INDIO

Indio’s season, once filled with so much hope and promise, hung in the balance for much of Wednesday night.

Leading scorer Isaiah Thomas sat for much of the game, scoreless and in foul trouble. Against an Estancia squad that barely snuck into the postseason, Indio trailed for much of the first three quarters.

Then, with nothing to lose, Thomas re-entered to start the fourth. Indio rallied. What began with a 5-0 run continued on to a 9-2 run. This was going to be the moment, the turning point.

Instead, it was too little, too late. A run that brought Indio within two with 2:39 to play ultimately fell short, and Indio was left to wonder what could have been following a 55-49 loss in the first round of the CIF-SS playoffs.

There would be no lesson to carry over into the next game. Instead, Indio’s season is over, and the sting of this one could hurt for a while.

“In the playoffs, you have to come to play,” Indio coach Ivery Thompson said. “And we didn’t come to play. That’s the bottom line.”

Estancia made the long trek from Costa Mesa, and may have been sent packing early had the Rajahs not stumbled out of the opening tip. Indio kept with the Eagles throughout the first half, yet never could take a commanding lead.

Part of that may have been due to Thomas sitting with foul trouble. Estancia instead controlled the tempo, and inched ahead each time Indio came within striking distance. The Rajahs trailed from start to finish.

After a disastrous third quarter in which Indio (18-9) failed to convert a single field goal, Thomas was inserted with four fouls and the rally began.

Trailing by 10, Thomas scored five consecutive points and — though he couldn’t risk picking up another foul by playing lock-down defense — eventually brought the Rajahs back from the dead with his scoring and playmaking.

But with just 54 seconds remaining and Indio trailing 52-49, Thomas missed the front end of a 1-and-1, and any momentum the Rajahs had produced to that point quickly evaporated.

Indio had chances to make up for it down the stretch, but Estancia (10-17) never relinquished the lead. The Eagles stretched the game into just three possessions, and was clutch when it counted.

“If they had played the whole game like they played the last four minutes, it wouldn’t have been close,” Thompson said.

Cesar Cid scored 19, with 17 coming in the first half. Thomas finished with 11, all of which came in the fourth.

After the game, players were visibly distraught and several declined to talk about it.

One player that did was sophomore starter William Thigpen.

“We’re not taking it too well,” Thigpen said. “We all believe we shouldn’t have lost today.”

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