Oaks Christian basketball pulls out win over Westlake in 3OT to grab share of league title

WESTLAKE — Four quarters of basketball wasn’t enough to decide the Marmonte League champion.

The Oaks Christian and Westlake boys basketball teams battled through regulation and three overtime periods Thursday night with the league title on the line.

Oaks Christian needed to win to get a share of the title, and after an extra 12 minutes of basketball, the Lions emerged on top, defeating Westlake 73-67 in the regular-season finale.

Westlake was already guaranteed to have a share of the title, but a win would have put them in sole possession of the crown.

Oaks Christian, along with Westlake and Thousand Oaks, all finished league play with 8-2 records, equating to a three-way tie for the league title.

“This means so much to our team,” Oaks Christian guard Troy McGovern said. “We had a bunch of injuries and we put the team together right at the start of the season. It was a difficult process to get here but we came together. We played unselfish and we got some big wins earlier in the year.”

“It’s incredible. We started the season 3-6 and we’re 18-10 now,” Oaks Christian head coach Mark Amaral said. “These are types of things they can reflect back on and we can hold them accountable. You want to get to a certain level, this is what it takes.”

The game was close down the stretch, but it was all Oaks Christian in the first quarter.

McGovern had seven early points to lead the Lions to a 16-4 lead heading into the second quarter.

Westlake started the second quarter with an 8-0 run to get back into the game, and could have taken the lead if it weren’t for senior Brett Johnson, who came off the bench and scored seven points in the quarter for Oaks Christian.

The Warriors grabbed their first lead of the game two minutes into the third quarter, with Kayden Elsokary helming the Warriors’ offense, but the advantage dissipated heading into the fourth quarter.

Much like the first eight minutes of the game, the Warriors struggled early in the fourth quarter and fell behind by 10 points.

Westlake inched its way back and forced overtime, but again fell behind quickly in the extra period.

Oaks Christian got out to a two-possession lead in each overtime period, which Westlake coach Kyle Kegley said was the deciding factor.

“We didn’t come out of the gates well in the first quarter and we didn’t come out in any overtime well. It felt like every overtime we were playing from behind,” Kegley said. “First quarter and all the overtimes, we were always behind by two buckets. You can only play from behind so much.”

The duo of Nick Giarrusso and Isayah Garcia helped carry the load in the overtime periods.

Giarrusso directed the Lions’ offense all game and was also the team’s leading rebounder with 10 boards. The sophomore was cool under pressure, making two free throws to tie the game at the end of regulation. He made 4 of 5 free throws in the three overtimes and scored eight of his 16 total points in the additional time.

Garcia, who had five points in the first 32 minutes of action, doubled his points total in the overtimes and made two 3-pointers.

Stevie Prudholme was the spark in the third overtime, scoring five quick points to deflate Westlake and put the game out of reach.

“We’ve worked so hard this year. We weren’t supposed to win this league but we just pushed through it,” McGovern said. “We thought we earned this win. We lost the lead at the end of the game but we deserved to win. We brought our energy together and we got that win.”

McGovern finished with 14 points and Johnson added 12 points. Both players made two 3-pointers.

Austin Maziasz had a game-high 25 points and 10 rebounds for Westlake. Elsokary logged 16 points and nine rebounds. Dante Deshautelle finished with 11 points, six rebounds and five assists.

The share of the Marmonte League title is the first for Oaks Christian since joining the league in 2014. The Lions went 0-10 in league just two years ago.

“We were 0-10 (league) and 4-24 (overall) two years ago. It’s all those guys, they just stayed with it. They believe in what we’re doing,” Amaral said. “Now they got a taste of winning a little bit and we can hold them to a standard.”

Westlake and Oaks Christian will await the release of the CIF Southern Section playoff brackets on Sunday. Westlake enters the playoffs as the No. 1 team from the Marmonte League.

Thousand Oaks will join its league counterparts in the postseason.

“We’re going to go down as Marmonte No. 1 in Division 2A and where they put us after that’s up to them,” Kegley said. “We’ll wait to see what they say on Sunday and we’ll start preparing immediately.”

This is the fifth playoff appearance in a row for Westlake. The Warriors made the quarterfinals during the 2019-20 season in the Division 3AA playoffs, the furthest they’ve gone during that five-year span.

Oaks Christian’s last playoff appearance was in the 2018-19 season, losing in the first round in Division 2AA.

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