Mack lifts Gauchos to State Final

(courtesy of Jerry Hannula, Saddleback Athletics)

John Franz, Sports Editor

FRESNO, Calif. (March 14, 2009) — Would they have it any other way? The Saddleback College men’s basketball team advanced to the California Community College Athletic Association State Finals in yet another nail-biting win against San Joaquin Delta, 62-59 at Selland Arena in Fresno. With 2.2 seconds left in overtime play, Terrell Mack hit a three-pointer to take the lead. This shot would stay as the game winner.

The Gauchos play Riverside City College on Sunday, March 15 at 1 p.m. in the championship game.

With some hope left, and Saddelback trailing by three points with only 3.1 seconds left in regulation, the Gauchos had the ball on the Mustangs’ side of the court down. Franklin Session drew the foul from beyond the arc.

“I knew I had to make all three of those free throws. I just knew I had to,” Session said. “We all play together. We just want to win.”

Session nailed all three free throws and forced the Mustangs to overtime. Session finished the game with 15 points and 13 rebounds. He single-handedly took control of the game, especially after Kevin Menner fouled out at the beginning of overtime.

In overtime, the period was a mirror image of what transpired throughout the game with no team taking true command of the flow with teams going back and forth. Until Mack hitthree-pointer that will now go down in history.

“That play wasn’t supposed to be for me,” Mack said. “Kyle (Wallace) was supposed to drive through the lane and draw the foul but I was ready.”

“I don’t know if you noticed, but Mack didn’t play most of the second half,” Coach Andy Ground said. “It shows how much character he has, and was ready, cold off the bench, to hit the shot for us.”

Mack finished with just the three points on the game, but that was all he needed.

Hidden in the stats was Saddleback’s lead in the hustle points in the game. The Gauchos led 15-7 in second-chance scoring, 14-7 from bench players and led in the points-off turnovers with 11.

The Mustangs had control through the middle third of the game, sustaining a lead from 24-23 to 42-41 on the scoreboard. With 13.8 seconds remaining, the Mustangs had a 52-48 lead.

Wallace forced a three-point foul of his own, but only hit two of three of his fouls. This pushed the score to 52-50. Fate then set in for the Gauchos. Walter Jackson was fouled immediately and only hit one of his two free throws. Jackson finished the game with nine points for the Mustangs and was one for two from the line.

Session then hit his three free throws forcing the overtime period which eventually landed a spot in the State Final against the winner of the City College of San Francisco and Riverside City College, which is scheduled today at 3 p.m.

“This team really has no quit, they are a special group of guys, they never quit and Franklin stepped up his game and Mack hit the shot at the end,” Ground said.

Follow the Lariat sports team on Twitter at lariatsports. The game will be broadcast live on the Internet at http://www.coasports.org/Basketball/men/radio09.asp.

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