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Les Willsey

Staff Writer,

Marcos de Niza trims D. Vista with FTs in final two minutes

Jan 9, 2013

Free-throw shooting has been pretty good for Marcos de Niza's boys basketbal team and Wednesday night the Padres needed it to be at crunch time.

Marcos de Niza made 15 of 18 free throws in the final two minutes to ward off a late charge by Desert Vista and complete a 77-71 triumph in a Division I game at Marcos de Niza.

Senior guard Stefan Tellis went 8-for-8 down the stretch and teammate Luke Lamb 4-for-4 to highlight the torrid charity-stripe shooting. Devin White's two free throws with 1:43 left iin the game gave Marcos the lead for good, 66-64. This after Marcos salted away a 13-point second-half advantage and an eight-point lead with just more than four minutes left.

A rash of Marcos turnovers -- most  forced by Desert Vista -- spurred the Thunder's rally.  Desert Vista took less than two minutes to tie the game at 62 on Greg Carter's layup with 2:49 to go. Tellis put Marcos back in front with the first two of his eight final-quarter free throws, but Carter (17 points) answered again with another layup with 1:52 to play.

Carter had another chance to tie the game with two free throws with 1:38 left.  He missed both and was also assessed a technical prior to shooting his free throws. Tellis went to the other end and made the technical shots for a 68-64 lead. Desert Vista got no closer the rest of the way as the Padres' marksmanship was too much.

"One of the biggest improvements we've made this season is taking care of the ball," Marcos de Niza coach Dave Stark said. "Last year we averaged 21 turnovers a game. This year that's down to seven. When we slowed it down in the fourth quarter, we didn't do a very good job of protecting the ball. It almost cost us. But we managed to hit the free throws."

Marcos de Niza improved to 13-3 overall and is 7-2 in power-ranking games halfway through its power-ranking slate. The Padres are enjoying one of the better turnarounds of any team this season. Marcos was 5-19 a year ago. Richaud Gittens led a balanced attack for Marcos de Niza with 18 points. Tyler Lazenby checked in with 14 points, including four 3s. Tellis  and Lamb finished with 11 points apiece. All of Lamb's scoring came in the second half.

Desert Vista dropped below .500 for the year at 9-10 and is 6-5 in power-ranking games. The Thunder lost for the second time in as many nights, bowing to Corona del Sol by four on Tuesday evening. Avery Brunson, who played for Marcos de Niza the last two seasons and was its leading scorer last year, topped Desert Vista and all scorers with 25. Brandon Clarke came off the Thunder'' bench in the second half and tallied 14 points. Kyle Pittman added 10 points for Desert Vista.  A month ago  Marcos de Niza pummeled Desert Vista on the Thunder's home court, 77-38.  Carter didn't play and Brunson tallied just three points as Marcos built a massisve lead early and never slowed down.

"We're playing pretty well, but we have to keep it up with our schedule," Stark said. "We've. got McClintock (Thursday), Corona a couple times and Mesa and Mountain View. another time. It doesn't get any easier."