Knights Topple Panthers for First Place
By Bret Schanzenbach
The fourth ranked San Marcos Knights came to fifth ranked Vista High on Friday night looking for some redemption. The Knights were swept last season by the Panthers as Vista won the Avocado East League. The Knights were hoping to return the favor after having already bested Vista last month on their home court 61-49. Since that meeting, Vista had not lost. The Knights only league loss this season came Tuesday night at the hands of Rancho Buena Vista as the Longhorns pulled off an upset with a three point shot at the buzzer. Friday night, however, the Knights did not allow a repeat performance as they managed to hold off Vista 48-45.
The game started as a defensive struggle with Knight leading after the first quarter by a score of 9-3. Vista struggled to solve the Knights 1-3-1 half court zone defense that placed 6’-8” senior Cody Mathis at the tip of the spear.
The Knights height, length and athleticism gave the Panthers fits all game.
However, Mathis got in foul trouble in the second quarter and Vista came to life behind three combined 3-pointers by the Morris brothers, Isaiah and Makiah, as the Panthers surged to an 18-17 half time lead. The game remained tight throughout the third quarter with both teams trading the lead back and forth and San Marcos emerging with the lead at 31-30. Although foul trouble kept the Knight’s Mathis out of the scoring column in the first half, in the second half, Mathis showed his athleticism as he lead all second half scorers with 12 points.
Senior Cody Clovet has been the Knights leading scorer on the season and he once again lead the Knights with 13 points. Jordan Hilstock, the Panther’s leading scorer this season, led all scorers Friday night with 15.
Vista also got 11 points from both Taurus Samuels and Isaiah Morris. Taurus Samuels had an off shooting night as he missed all his first half field goal attempts, going 3-18 on the night.
The game was worthy of the first place billing it received. In fourth quarter, twice the Knights took double digit leads, but each time the Panthers responded. With less than 30 seconds to go in the game, the Knights held a 48-43 lead. With 13 seconds to go, Jordan Hilstock was fouled attempting a 3 pointer. He made all three free throws. After almost losing the ball out of bounds in the back court, the Knight called time out with 10.1 seconds left. But after the timeout, they couldn’t inbound the ball and turned the ball over. After a Panther timeout, however, the Knights defense snuffed any realistic 3 point attempt and held on to win the game.
The Knights (21-3, 7-1) continue their march to a league title on Tuesday by hosting Oceanside. The Panthers (19-7, 6-2) will try to rebound on Tuesday when celebrating Senior Night at home against El Camino.