Sierra Canyon boys basketball loses to St. Joseph on last-second shot in state playoffs

CHATSWORTH — With 8.5 seconds left in the game and Sierra Canyon’s boys basketball team trailing St. Joseph by two points, senior Ethan Johnson hit a corner 3-pointer to give the Trailblazers a 68-67 advantage.

St. Joseph called a timeout after the basket, but amidst the chaos, the game clock kept ticking and the Trailblazers celebrated what they thought was the game-winner in the opening round of the CIF State Open Division playoffs Wednesday night.

The Knights still had 5.3 seconds left in the game, but once again the game clock started before the ball was inbounded, so the officials had to reset the time again.

St. Joseph got the ball over halfcourt and called a timeout to set up a play in a halfcourt set, but for the third time, the game clock kept running, adding to the confusion on the court.

The officials landed at 2.1 seconds remaining, just enough time for Tounde Yessoufou to high-point an inbounds pass in the paint and hit an 11-footer at the buzzer to give St. Joseph a 69-68 victory.

Wow! Unreal finish in Chatsworth!

Tounde Yessoufou hits the game-winner with 2.1 seconds left

St. Joseph defeats Sierra Canyon 69-68

— Dan Lovi (@LoviSports) February 29, 2024

The disarray in the final moments of the game seemed to zap Sierra Canyon’s momentum and gave St. Joseph extra time to draw up the game-winning play.

But Justin Pippen and his teammates didn’t point any fingers.

“We have to keep our heads up and keep looking forward. It’s a part of the journey,” Pippen said. “Regardless of the outcome, we proved a lot of people wrong around the state and around the country.”

It was a back-and-forth affair the entire evening, with the teams trading leads throughout the contest.

Sierra Canyon and St. Joseph both made 10 3-pointers as a team and scored 30 points worth of 2-point field goals.

But it was Yessoufou’s final two points of a game-high 26 points that was the difference.

The Trailblazers carried a five-point advantage into the half, but the Knights came out on a 10-2 run in the third quarter with sophomore guard Julius Price leading the way.

Price scored 11 of his 25 points in the third quarter to give St. Joseph a two-point lead going into the final quarter.

A big 3-pointer by Pippen and a four-point play by Bryce James put Sierra Canyon back up by five points with less than three minutes remaining in the game.

Yessoufou and Price led St. Joseph back into the mix and Price’s two free throws gave the Knights a 67-65 lead with 8.5 seconds before Johnson’s 3-point make.

Pippen led Sierra Canyon with 18 points and Isaiah Elohim added 12 points and 16 rebounds. Noah Williams added 15 points, as the three seniors led the way for the Trailblazers.

“I love these guys. We fought every single day,” Pippen said. “Six a.m., trained all season for this and proved everyone wrong.”

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