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St. Mary’s takes NCS title by beating Salesian for third time

By Jared Green Daily Planet Staff
Monday March 05, 2001

Trio of juniors leads team to Division IV title 


For the second straight season, league rivals St. Mary’s and Salesian met in the North Coast Section Division IV championship game. But unlike last year, the Panthers came out on top, the third time they have beaten the Chieftans this season. 

The Panthers survived a horrid second quarter in which they were outscored 16-2, leaning heavily on their talented trio of juniors to push them to the school’s first NCS basketball title. Point guard DaShawn Freeman scored a game-high 18 points, and got help from classmates John Sharper and Chase Moore, who scored 13 and 12, respectively, as the starters scored every point for the Panthers. 

The win was sweet redemption for Freeman, who was devastated by last season’s final loss. 

“We didn’t even want the second-place banner,” Freeman said. “If we had gotten one, we probably would have burned it.” 

Freeman came up big in the final seconds of the game, hitting four straight free throws to ice the victory. Salesian point guard John Winston banked in a leaning 3-pointer to pull his team within two with 4.2 seconds left, but Freeman made sure of his team’s title by making two free throws. 

But first St. Mary’s had to overcome a 25-18 halftime deficit. Sharper shook off a scoreless first half to score 13 points in the second half, including a 3-pointer that gave his team a 34-33 lead late in the third quarter, a lead the Panthers would never reliniquish. 

“We wanted this trophy bad, and we got it,” Sharper said. “We weren’t worried at all at halftime, we just came out and played even harder.” 

The Panthers beat Salesian easily in the teams’ regular season meeting, then mounted a comeback to win the BSAL championship game. The teams could meet again in the NorCal finals, which both teams start this week. Freeman, for one, has had enough of the Chieftans for this season. 

“We know each other too well, I think,” he said. “I’m tired of playing those guys.” 

St. Mary’s head coach Jose Caraballo said he considers his team the favorite heading into NorCal. 

“We’ve still got battles left to win,” Caraballo said. “Our goals are still the same. We’re going to work hard and make sure we have the advantage.”