The Deer Valley High boys basketball staved off visiting Freedom in an 85-78 victory Thursday night and clinched a third consecutive Bay Valley Athletic League title.
The Falcons (18-8, 8-2) and Wolverines (21-5, 9-1) entered the game tied for first place, and the determined Falcons weren't going to let Wolverines star Marcus Lee prevail in his final league game without a fight.
Getting a big lift from teammate Nzuzi Webster, a junior point guard who had team-high 25 points, Lee overcame foul trouble to deliver the championship.
It was a momentous day for Lee, the 6-foot-10 Kentucky-bound center. He learned earlier he'd been selected to the McDonald's All-American Game.
"It was a childhood dream," he said of the McDonald's honor. "That was my main goal this year: to finally get there and finally learn to be the best."
Lee, who finished with 17 points, credited his teammates with stepping up against a talented Falcons squad that was coming off a 66-60 win over Heritage on Tuesday.
"They're used to it. They know I get in foul trouble, so they knew they were buckling down for a war," said Lee, who was held scoreless in the fourth quarter.
Webster said he needed to deliver for his team.
"We all had to step up, especially me," he said. "He's a top a player."
Webster credited the Wolverines' defense as key against an explosive Falcons squad.
Lee sat on the bench after getting hit with his fourth foul with
The Falcons, led by senior James O'Neal's 25 points, took the lead on an Elliot Smith layup with 4:48 left. But the Wolverines regained the lead on Kendall Smith's bank shot.
Freedom's Elliot Smith (19 points) later sandwiched two clutch field goals around a Webster 3-pointer, and the Falcons trailed 80-77.
Deer Valley salted away the victory on late baskets by Kenny Robinson and Webster.
The Wolverines played without coach LeChet Phillips, who was on administrative leave.
Pat Saindon, an assistant coach, filled in.
"We did this for coach's sake. He's a great guy, and he deserves to be here," Saindon said.
El Cerrito 53, St. Joseph Notre Dame 50: Marcellus Pippins hit five 3-pointers to finish with 15 points as the host Gauchos erased a 15-point halftime deficit and beat the Pilots in the semifinals of the Tri-County Athletic League playoffs. Tre James added 10 points and eight rebounds in the win, as El Cerrito (20-8) advanced to Saturday's 8 p.m. final against Salesian at El Cerrito.
Temidayo Yussuf led the Pilots (17-11) with 21 points.
Valley Christian-Dublin 67, College Prep 48: Izzy Ayad was one of three players to score in double figures for the host Vikings, who beat the Cougars (10-16) to advance to the title game of the Bay Counties League-East playoffs.
Arianna Cunha and Kayla Frierson had 13 points each for Valley Christian (25-2), which will play Head-Royce on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Athenian School in Danville.
Head-Royce beat Athenian 55-31 in the other semifinal.
Oakland Tech 2, Skyline 0: The host Bulldogs clinched their second straight Oakland Athletic League title, scoring twice in a three-minute span midway through the second half.
Oakland Tech (7-3-2, 7-0-1 OAL) had been building up play nicely after an even first half and finally got on the board when Onah Power put away a penalty kick in the 61st minute.
"It felt like a goal was coming because we had been playing well and getting some chances," Power said. "We knew eventually it would come, but we had to stay patient."
Zachary Spindle scored in the 64th minute to put the game away. Skyline (5-1-1 OAL) had played well up to that point.
Spindle's goal came after a throw-in from Carlos Chavarria as Spindle used a soft touch to bring the ball down, turn and shoot.
-- Matt Smith, correspondent