BY ESTEBAN RAMIREZ Special to the Californian
Freshman center Kevin Larson made a clutch block to help spark No. 3 seed Independence to a 62-51 win Thursday over No. 6 seed Tehachapi in a Central Section Division III basketball playoff quarterfinal.
With the game tied at 37 and less than 2 minutes left in the third quarter, Larson got a hand on a layup by Warriors guard Isaiah Johnson.
The host Falcons scored off the block, but it did much more than supply an easy opportunity for two points.
"I think it was a big momentum changer because they had a couple scores in a row, and that really stopped them," said Larson, who finished with 11 points, eight rebounds and two blocks.
Larson's block "energized our whole team," Independence guard Isaac Clark said.
"We weren't expecting it, and Kevin came up big and he stepped up his game. He saved us this game."
After the block, the Falcons took a 43-40 lead into the fourth quarter, as well as momentum.
Larson continued to energize the team with two dunks, helping Independence go on 10-4 run to start the final quarter, which helped them pull away for good.
"We knew we were going to be in a fight because Tehachapi is a really good team," Falcons coach Stan Davis said. "I'm really proud of our freshmen and some of our role players that helped us overcome them.
"I think we stayed patient and didn't settle for perimeter shots against their zone."
Clark, who made 8 of 9 free throws, led the Falcons with 22 points. Johnson led the Warriors in with 17 points and added seven rebounds.
Larson said he was mindful of who helped him have a big game.
"I definitely think this is my best game of the season, but it all started with my teammates because they got me the ball for the dunks," he said.