SACRAMENTO -- The College Park High boys basketball team's remarkable season came to an end March 23, one win short of a dream finish, as the Falcons lost 54-47 to Redondo Union-Redondo Beach in the California Interscholastic Federation Division II state championship game at Sleep Train Arena.
Redondo's size was a big factor as 6-foot-6 sophomore Jeremiah Headley had a game-high 19 points and 13 rebounds. College Park was out-rebounded 48-31.
"They were a little longer than us, but we've been facing that obstacle all year long," College Park coach Craig Battle said. "They really hit the boards hard. That was the difference in the game."
Redondo's size was also a factor on defense. College Park (27-6), which came in averaging 69 points per game, was held to its second-lowest point total of the season, the fewest since a 59-42 loss to Oak Ridge on Dec. 6.
"They played real good defense," said College Park senior guard Mikey Eggleton, who scored a team-high 14 points. "It was our second-lowest scoring total of the season. That wasn't just a coincidence."
The Falcons, who made it through the Northern regional playoffs despite being seeded 11th out of 12 teams, got off to a fast start, taking a 9-3 lead as their activity on defense prevented Redondo from getting into an early flow.
College Park led 12-5 early in the second quarter after a Joe DeMers 3-pointer, but Redondo started to turn the momentum its favor. The Seahawks went on a 17-6 run to close the quarter and take a 22-18 lead at halftime.
"They're a mirror image of us," Redondo coach Reggie Morris said of College Park. "We're just a little bigger."
After an Eggleton 3-pointer brought College Park to within 28-27 in the third quarter, Redondo put the game away with a 13-2 run.
Redondo (28-8) finished the season on a 21-game winning streak.
College Park made just seven of 25 3-point attempts.
"We had some good looks but they were running right at us," Battle said. "That was a good defensive team. Bottom line was we didn't make the shots."
And so College Park's unlikely run at a state title came up just short. Still, it was the furthest a College Park team had ever advanced.
"It was a little surreal,'' Eggleton said. "It's something you dream about as a kid. We were very lucky to get this opportunity."
DeMers, one of seven sophomores on the College Park team, had 13 points and 14 rebounds.
"It's always bittersweet at the end,'' Battle said. "These guys did everything we asked of them. We might not have a lot of size, but every guy had a big heart. We got a taste of this. We want to come back."