The same types of shots that were falling consistently for Pioneer Valley early Friday stopped falling as the game went along.
Fremont Irvington gradually wiped out a 16-point Pioneer Valley first-half lead and came away with a 54-52 win in the championship game of the third annual Santa Maria Holiday Hoops Tourney at Santa Maria's Wilson Gym.
Irvington moved to 8-4. Pioneer Valley is 7-4.
Host Santa Maria nipped Lompoc 76-74 in triple overtime in the third-place game. Bakersfield Mira Monte defeated Hanford Sierra Pacific 68-46 for fifth place, and Morro Bay edged Lindsay 41-40 for seventh place.
Irvington point guard Kaushal Bobba, the tournament MVP, scored the winning point of the championship game when he made the second of his two free throws to make it 53-50 with 4:14 to play.
Andrew Yamasaki made the second of his two foul shots to make it 54-50 with 2:12 left. Jayden Jones made two free throws for Pioneer Valley at the 1:53 mark, and Bobba twice missed the front end of subsequent one-and-ones.
However, Owen Schmitz ruined the Panthers' last chance when he intercepted an in-bounds pass in the last seconds as Pioneer Valley was trying to set for a would-be tying, or winning, basket.
Friday marked the second straight year a team rallied past Pioneer Valley (host Santa Maria did it last year) to win the tournament title, but PV coach Greg Lanthier expressed no disappointment with his team's effort Friday.
"When you play four games in three days, and you have seven guys playing all those minutes, that's no excuse, but there's going to be fatigue," said Lanthier.
"The way the game was called it was physical, and we wanted it to be physical, but our most physical guy, Taylor Burns, couldn't play. He hurt his ankle two days ago."
Bobba and Andy Zhao both finished with 14 points for the Vikings. Zhao scored 12 points in the second half. Braxton Carlson added 12 points, with eight coming in the second half.
Zhao and Carlson double teamed Jones , Pioneer Valley's standout center, inside throughout, but Jones still finished with a game high 19 points.
Trouble was, from the Pioneer Valley side of things, he was the only Panther who scored consistently after the break.
The Panthers led 35-27 at halftime. Jones scored 13 of his team's 17 points after intermission.
The Vikings left Pioneer Valley wing player Sal Villa open early, and Villa responded by hitting three 3-point shots in a 23-point Pioneer Valley first quarter. The Panthers led 23-10 going into the second.
Villa, who finished with 14 points, hit another trey to hike the Panthers' lead to 28-12 at the 6:30 mark of the second quarter. The Vikings started challenging Villa and the Panthers' other outside shooters, and Pioneer Valley's halfcourt offense began to bog down.
As the game went along, Jones became Pioneer Valley's only reliable scoring option. It ultimately wasn't enough. Carlson gave the Vikings their first lead, 46-44, on a follow shot at the 6:55 mark of the fourth quarter.
Bobba put the Vikings ahead for good, 50-48, when he made a 10-footer at the 5:32 mark of the fourth quarter.
Carlson made the All-Tournament Team. So did Jones and his Pioneer Valley teammate, Matt Garcia.
Things got testy at times. Officials separated Bobba and Garcia in the second half. At the end of the third quarter, Santa Maria athletic director Brian Wallace made an announcement to the fans to stop talking to the officials after there had been some loud, and a few of them nasty, comments directed at the officials from the stands.
Lanthier said afterward, "It was a good week for us. I have no complaints with how (our players) played."
Santa Maria 76, Lompoc 74 (3 OT)
Blake Truhitte made a layup with 23 seconds left in the third overtime and the Saints (7-3) finally came away with the win over their Los Padres League rival. The Braves dropped to 3-9.
Truhitte's basket made it 75-74. Joey Nevarez made the first of his two foul shots for the last point of the game. A potential winning Lompoc 3-point try from the left side as time ran out didn't come close.
Both teams had a chance to put the game away before it reached the third overtime, but neither one could do it. Santa Maria erased the 43-34 lead Lompoc had at the 2:42 mark of the third quarter.
The Saints buried 11 3-pointers, including four by Nevarez who finished with 25 points.
Kobe Medina scored 16 points for the Saints. Jonathan Ramos had 10. Andrew Villa and Ryan Morgan led Lompoc with 21 points apiece. Jeffrey Ray scored 16 points for the Braves, and Ruben Cortez added 10.