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Boys' basketball: El Camino Real holds on to win first City title

March 2, 2012 | 10:11 pm

Woodland Hills El Camino Real returned to the gym where two years ago, the Conquistadores suffered a fourth-quarter collapse of unreal proportions, blowing a 17-point lead and giving up the final 19 points in losing the City Section Division III final to Verdugo Hills.

This time, on Friday night in the Division II championship game at Los Angeles Roybal, the top-seeded Conquistadores fought back a determined effort by Garfield and came away with a 62-53 victory, earning their first basketball title in school history.

Sophomore Julian Richardson scored 25 points. Sophomore Maleke Haynes made the key shot of the night, an off-balance three-pointer with 1:39 left that gave El Camino Real a 55-49 lead.

It was a raucous crowd that produced deafening noise. Garfield (27-7) received 15 points apiece from Francisco Aguilar and Joe Joaquin. The Bulldogs rallied from a 13-point second-quarter deficit to take a 47-46 lead with 4:23 left.

The Bulldogs made just 15 of 30 free throws. Michael Thomas had 13 points and 12 rebounds for El Camino Real.

Garfield played with toughness and perseverance, giving the Conquistadores all they could handle.

-- Eric Sondheimer