St. Joseph senior guard Kainoa Keuma shot five free throws in the last 1:35 of this Mountain League opener. He made four of them.
"Just enough," Keuma said after his late foul shooting marksmanship helped the Knights edge Arroyo Grande 64-62 Thursday night in front of an overflow crowd at St. Joseph's Hofschulte Gym.
The teams' inaugural Mountain League game was the inaugural Mountain League one for both since moving to the CIF Central Section from the Southern Section earlier in the year.
Robert Hutchens buried a 3-point shot with 13 seconds left to put the Eagles within 63-62. Connor Angle fouled Keuma on purpose in the St. Joseph backcourt with 10.7 seconds left, fouling out in the process.
Keuma made the first free throw and missed the second. Bryan Smith pulled down the rebound for the Eagles, but Hutchens' lunging 3-point shot didn't come close, grazing the net beneath the rim. and the Knights' win was sealed.
The Knights moved to 14-3, 1-0. The Eagles are 12-4, 0-1.
Steven Vasquez scored a game-high 23 points for St. Joseph, and he put the Knights ahead for good, 55-54, when he nailed a 12-footer in the lane with 1:44 left to play.
Keuma made a steal on the ensuing Arroyo Grande possession, made a layup and drew a foul. He completed the old-fashioned three-point play to increase the St. Joseph margin to 58-54 with 1:35 left.
Chase Artopoeus made a steal on the next Arroyo Grande possession, Vasquez, who sank five 3-pointers including four in the second half, made a layup to make it 60-54 with 1:13 to play.
The Eagles stayed in it by scoring on their next three possessions. Smith buried a three-point shot, Charlie Bayer drove into the lane and made a layup then Hutchens hit the 3-pointer to pull his team within 63-62.
All that wasn't quite enough, because the Knights made four of their last six foul shots. Keuma sank two with 50.1 seconds left then point guard Angel Ortiz (18 points) and Keuma both subsequently made one of two.
The Eagles played the last 3:03 without one of their most consistent scorers, Gage Gomez. Gomez went down with what appeared to be an injury to his right ankle at that point.
Gomez limped heavily off the floor, and was wearing a wrap around the ankle area afterward.
Keuma finished with 15 points for the Knights. Gomez led the Eagles with 14.
Smith, Hutchens and Caleb Whalen put in 12 points apiece for Arroyo Grande.
"Our defense came through for us," Keuma said. Unofficially, the Eagles had 10 turnovers to the Knights' four in a first half that ended with St. Joseph ahead 27-26.
For the most part, the Eagles took better care of the ball in the second half, but they came up empty on their next three possessions after scoring the first seven points of the fourth quarter to take a 50-46 lead.
Five points was the biggest margin for either side. Arroyo Grande led 5-0 after hitting its first two shots.
Keuma said the first-year Mountain League figures to be tight but, "We'll come out on top. Again."
Actually, the Knights finished tied for third, one game behind co-champs San Luis Obispo and Mission Prep, last year.
Mountain League teams will play each other on Saturday nights this year, and St. Joseph will host Paso Robles at 7 p.m. this Saturday. Arroyo Grande will host Righetti at 6:45 p.m. the same night.
Righetti 60, Paso Robles 57
Canaan Reynolds led the Warriors in the first Mountain League game with 17 points.
Dominic Dollete added 11 points for Righetti and Caleb Thomas, a Tulane football signee, chipped in with 10 points. Jackson Moore added eight for the Warriors.