Palm Springs’ Esiah Smith missed a rare three-point attempt late in Palm Springs’ 80-43 win over Cathedral City, and all he could do was smile.
For the Indians, there was nothing left to do but smile after their runaway win on Senior Night at Paul Summers Gym that clinched the Desert Valley League title. What made it more gratifying was the great number of players that got to participate in the win.
Sparked by 19 points from forward Deondre Hawkins, and 11 from more from guard Noah McGuire, the Indians (17-7, 10-2) coasted from the opening tap against the Lions (5-18, 2-10), who finished the season at the bottom of the league standings.
“It feels good,” said Palm Springs’ coach Chris Howard. “It’s one of our goals at the beginning of the year, and we’ve accomplished it. It’s a credit to this team, this school, and the culture that I came into.”
Palm Springs’ John Rich started the game with a three-point basket, then followed up with a lay-up after the relentless Palm Springs’ full-court press created a second-straight Cathedral City turnover. McGuire scored the next five, and Palm Springs led 10-0 with two minutes played.
Cathedral City, meanwhile, only got shots up on seven of their 20 first quarter possessions, with only one of those shots – a three-point basket from Justin Frias with 35 seconds to play in the first quarter – made it through the hoop. On their only other possession, Angel Clark missed two free throws.
To its’ credit, Cathedral City scored the first six points of the second quarter to cut the Indians lead to 25-9. But Palm Springs’ guard Kaelan Richter, who came in at the start of the quarter, answered with back-to-back three-pointers to help build Palm Springs’ lead back to 24 at 33-9.
Twice later in the quarter, the Lions cut the Indians lead to 19, but Palm Springs ended the first half with a 6-1 run to open up a 43-18 halftime lead. McGuire, who came back in the game late in the second quarter, added his second three-point goal of the half. Richter made a three-pointer for the last basket of the half, and his third three-point basket of the period.
The Indians came back with their starters in third and scored first nine points of the quarter, forcing a Cathedral City time out with 5:25 to play to play in the period. Playing their starters for a majority of the quarter, the Indians outscored the Lions 22-12 to take a 65-30 lead into the fourth quarter. Howard then made liberal use of his bench, to close out the win. Rather than substitutes, he preferred to refer to the players as “reinforcements.”
“When we’re engaged defensively, we play very well,” said Howard. “Those guys work hard, they’re all in, and it’s great to see them get in there and play like this.”
Deondre Hawkins, Palm Springs: Palm Springs’ low post couldn’t be stopped, putting up 19 points in just over two quarters of play. Many of the points came off put-backs after getting the offensive rebound.
Noah McGuire: McGuire added 11 points to the cause, with five in the decisive first quarter. He also came in during the second quarter to settle the reinforcements, then added another three in the third quarter. He need the night with three three-point baskets.
Despite his team’s loss, Cathedral City guard Oscar Rodriguez impressed the crowd with five three-point baskets…Palm Springs went exclusively with “reinforcements” from the bench in the fourth quarter, and they were able to outscore the Lions 15-13 in the period.
Next up: Palm Springs (17-7, 10-2) earns a No. 1 playoff seed and a first-round home playoff game. Its opponent will be revealed Sunday. Cathedral City ends its’ season 5-18, 1-11 in the league.
Palm Springs 80, Cathedral City 43
Cathedral City 3 15 12 13 —43
Palm Springs 25 18 22 15 —80
Cathedral City (43)
(FG-FT-FTA-TP) Justin Frias 1 2-4 5, Aaron Lugo 2 0-0 4, Angel Clark 3 4-7 10, Oscar Rodriguez 5 0-0 15, Jose Hernandez 1 0-0 2, Anton Patee 2 1-2 5, Jared Dilberto 1 0-1 2. Totals 15 7-14 43
Palm Springs (80)
(FG-FT-FTA-TP) John Rich 4 2-2 12, Noah McGuire 4 0-0 11, Deondre Hawkins 8 3-3 19, Demo Carbajal 1 0-0 2, Chris Howard 2 1-2 5, Kaelan Richter 3 0-0 9, Joel Hernandez 1 2-4 4, Esiah Smith 2 1-2 5, Jackson Hansen 1 0-0 3, Damion King 2 0-0 5, Jeremy Dotson 2 0-0 5. Totals 30 7-13 80
3-Point Goals: Cathedral City – 6 (Justin Frias 1, Oscar Hernandez 5). Palm Springs – 11 (Noah McGuire 3, John Rich 2, Kaelan Richter 3, Jackson Hansen 1, Damion Lee 1, Jerry Dotson 1).