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March 23, 2014
NorCal D-3 Final: Drake Downs Archbishop Riordan
Nor Cal Division III Regional Final:
With the score tied at 45-45 with 3:20 left to play, the Drake Pirates used a 9-4 run to close out the game and defeat the Riordan Crusaders 54-49 for the Nor Cal Division III championship.
Drake improves to 26-7 on the season and wins their third Nor Cal title in four appearances. They are 1-2 in previous state finals. Riordan finishes the year at 19-12 and is now 3-2 in Nor Cal finals.
This was a game of big runs, with Drake using a 17-4 advantage in the second quarter to go ahead 27-16 at the break. But the Crusaders came on strong with a full court press in the third period (which created 10 turnovers) to make a 17-6 run and tie the game at 33-33 at the end of the quarter.
Drake was able to handle the pressure in the fourth quarter and didn't have any turnovers. And they made plays down the stretch to get it done.
Junior Jasper Verduin led the Pirates with 23 points and 7 rebounds. Junior Jesse Hunt chipped in with 13 points and 6 rebounds.
Seniors Jiday Ugbaja (Sacramento State) and his cousin Chiefy Ugbaja each had 21 to top the Crusaders.
"It's been a great run," said Drake coach Doug Donnellan. "A little unexpected run. But these guys decided two weeks ago [after losing in the north Coast Section playoffs] to do something special."
And here they are in the state finals for the first time since 1994. Drake will face the Chaminade Eagles who defeated Santa Margarita 53-52 for the Southern California regional title.