WALNUT CREEK - Having already sent the game to overtime with a clutch three-pointer as time ran down during regulation, Las Lomas point guard JT Estes calmly drained a pair of free throws with seven seconds left in overtime, as the Knights prevailed against rival Northgate, 64-61.
“My old coach, Frank Allocco, Jr. always told me, ‘No pressure, just a chance to become a legend,'" Estes said.
Trailing by three with five seconds left in the fourth quarter, Estes drained one from the top of the key to tie the game up at 56-56, sending it to overtime. Quickly in overtime, Ethan Trowbridge for Northgate hit a two point shot to give the Broncos the lead, 58-56. On the next possession, Zach Patterson for the Knights hit a three, giving Las Lomas (9-6, 1-1 DAL-Foothill) a 59-58 advantage.
Alden Friedman responded quickly with a three of his own to give the Broncos (11-4, 0-2) a 61-59 lead, but after a lot of missed shots and opportunities for both teams happened during a two minute dry-spell, Las Lomas dual-sport standout Dylan Graham hit the go-ahead three to give the Knights a 62-61 they would never relinquish.
Estes wound up going to the line for a one-and-one situation, with seven seconds remaining in the extra period, and drained both shots for the three-point lead which would end up as the final score.
This season's Battle of the Creek game was the closest Las Lomas-Northgate game since the 2014-15 season, when the Knights won 58-55 at Northgate.
“Play our game, out compete the other team, and play harder then they do were our keys,” said Estes, who led the Knights with a season-high 22 points.
This years Las Lomas team looks much different on paper than last years talented team featuring Robert Prince, Jason Holman, Nathan Robinson, and Devin Payne.
“My role especially is to facilitate and lead these younger guys. We all have new roles, but it’s my job to really certify my new role and help everybody find their roles. When we do that we’ll be successful like we were today,” said Estes.
Northgate was led by a powerful surge from seniors Aidan Lechner and Friedman. Lechner added 24 points for the Broncos and Friedman added 15 points. The Broncos looked like an entirely different team this game compared to last year, getting routed both times they played Las Lomas, 71-49 and 76-58.
“They are a really good well coached team,” Estes added.
Head coach Ron Pangilinan for Northgate is in his third year as the Broncos head coach and so far he has a career record of 39-29. He has turned around the program since his first year when he went 6-20 in the 2016-17 season. After that, the team went 22-5 last season and so far they are 11-4 and looking to make a far run in the NCS playoffs this year. Las Lomas and Northgate will square off once more in the regular season, this time at Northgate on Jan. 29.
Both the Knights and Broncos will play Friday, with the Knights playing Clayton Valley, and the Broncos facing Acalanes.
Clayton Valley is currently 9-4 overall on the season and 1-0 in league. Las Lomas and Clayton Valley split their two meetings last season and were neck and neck throughout the season.