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Jurian Dixon and crew lead St. Augustine past San Ysidro for San Diego Section Open Division title

The top-seeded Saints were able to finish the job on Saturday night, beating seventh-seeded San Ysidro, 81-76, for the San Diego Section Open Division crown.

(Lead photo by Justin Fine)

CHULA VISTA, Calif. – When the basketball season tipped off in the San Diego Section back in November, all signs pointed towards St. Augustine being the consensus favorite on the boy’s side.

Fast forward three months and the top-seeded Saints were able to finish the job on Saturday night, beating seventh-seeded San Ysidro, 81-76, for the San Diego Section Open Division crown.

“That’s hard,” St. Augustine head coach Mike Haupt said. “Torrey (Pines) did it last year but It’s hard to go wire-to-wire when everyone wants to beat you.”

Despite finishing the year on top, there were a few bumps along the way for the Saints. The Saints lost five of seven games during the final two weeks of December and were hit hard by COVID-19 protocols that forced four starters to miss games.

“We had a rough patch over Christmas, so we had to recover from that,” Haupt said. “So, I was proud of these guys especially with how young they are, and you saw it tonight, you saw it with the youth.”

The Saints steadily built their lead in the first half and stretched it to seventeen when Lolo Rudolph connected from long range just before the second quarter buzzer sounded.

St. Augustine pushed the lead to 61-41 in the early minutes of the second quarter before San Ysidro began their charge. Senior forward Martin Flores got hot and suddenly helped the Cougars cut the lead down to eight with his buzzer-beating layup as the third quarter expired.

The two teams battled it out over the final eight minutes with San Ysidro cutting it to a three-point game with just under 41 seconds left to play. The Cougars elected to play out the possession and were burned when St. Augustine’s Lolo Rudolph drove the lane and scored with five seconds left for what would be the game’s final basket.

“We’ve talked a lot about how to play with the lead and we didn’t do a great job, but we did enough,” Haupt said.

Junior guard Jurian Dixon led the Saints with 21 points, facing off against his former team, San Ysidro.

“This is an amazing feeling,” Dixon said. “I know my first time here was winning a (Division 3 Championship) but coming back and winning this is an even greater feeling.”

San Ysidro’s Martin Flores along with fellow seniors Sebastian Medina and Miguel Figueroa combined to score 65 of the Cougars’ 76 points.

Both teams will see their seasons continue in next week’s CIF State playoffs and will find out their opponents when brackets are released on Sunday afternoon.