After swapping the lead back and forth with Fatima in the first half of Saturday's championship game at the California 80th Annual Boys Basketball Tournament, the Pintos stepped up their game in the third quarter to change the pace and ultimately clench the title, the Pintos' first in 25 years at the California Tourney.
"Fatima is tough," California Coach Blair Scanlon said. "They've only lost two games all year, both to Blair Oaks. This was a high-energy game. Our defense was really good. Our goal was to win this tournament. I didn't know it had been 25 years since that happened, but it was our goal, and it's good to get this, especially for our seniors. It also comes at a good time, to get us off on the right foot for the rest of the season."
Though the Pintos, the #2 seed, led 15-13 after the first quarter and 27-26 at the half, the top-seeded Comets challenged the lead throughout the first half. The second half, however, proved different as the Pintos outscored Fatima 21-12 in the third quarter and 14-13 in the fourth to take the win. Dylan Albertson led California with 20 points. Damon Shaw scored 14 points, Jaden Barr 13, and Jerry Lutz eight.
Fatima was led by Austin Schubert and Zach Buscher with 12 points each, while Jared Schulte added seven.
Named to the All-Tournament team were California's Albertson, who was named MVP, and Barr; Fatima's Schulte and Schubert; Mexico's Cole Jaramillo and Skylar Harrington; Marshall's Zach Glassmaker and Connor Cooley; Lebanon's Connor Hicks; and Fulton's Ricky Dawson.
In other action at the tournament Saturday, third-seeded Mexico defeated fifth-seeded Marshall 64-58 in the contest for third place. Lebanon, the #6 seed, beat fourth-seeded Fulton 77-73 in overtime Friday to take the consolation.
Previously at the tourney, California defeated seventh-seeded Southern Boone 74-52 in first-round action Jan. 14.
The Pintos outscored the Eagles 19-12 in the first quarter, 23-16 in the second, 14-8 in the third and 18-16 in the fourth to secure the win.
"We played Southern Boone back-to-back, and I think we just eventually wore them down," Scanlon said. "We left some easy buckets at the end, but it was good to get that first win of the tournament out of the way."
California was led by Shaw and Albertson with 19 points each. Drew Norton scored 12 points, and Barr and Austin Gump each contributed seven.
Southern Boone was led by Gannon Mueller with 25 points, and Ethan O'Keefe with 11.
The Pintos played Mexico in the semifinal round Thursday, where California came from behind in the first half to capture a 57-51 win. The Bulldogs are coached by Coach Blair Scanlon's brother Brennan Scanlon.
"This was a very intense, emotional game," Coach Blair Scanlon said. "My brother and I, we support each other and have some similar traits. I wanted to win this one bad. Our guys played very competitive and got after it defensively."
The Bulldogs led 18-14 after the first quarter and 27-26 at the half, however, the Pintos came out in the second half to outscore Mexico 15-10 in the third quarter and 16-14 in the fourth to secure the win.
Albertson led California with a career-high 29 points, followed by Drew Norton with 13. Barr added eight points.
California will host Versailles at 5 p.m. Friday.