AFTER two years of being bridesmaids, Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu finally became a bride on Friday night.
Behind the prolific Arc Gabrielle Araw-Araw, the Magis Eagles swept University of the Visayas Baby Lancers to win the juniors title of the 12th Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. Cesafi) after a 77-72 win in Game Three of the Finals at the Cebu Coliseum.
Araw-Araw, the former San Beda Junior Cub, finished with a team-high 18 points as he led the school undefeated for the entire season en route to winning a first-ever championship in its distinguished 56-year-history.
The victory also avenged the failed title attempts of the Magis Eagles in the Finals the past two seasons, including last year when they bungled a 2-1 series lead against the Baby Lancers and lost the championship in the deciding Game Five.
Adjudged as the season’s Rookie of the Year and member of the Mythical Five, Araw-Araw sank the go-ahead lay-up for Sacred Heart, 69-68. He later delivered the death blow when he hit a floater in the final 41 seconds for a 75-70 Eagles lead.
The Sacred Heart victory was almost dampened by the walkout the deposed champions staged – on orders by head coach Delfin Pepito - after balloons and confetti began to fall with still five seconds left in the game and the score at 75-72.
However, Cesafi commissioner Felix Tiukinhoy was able to persuade the Baby Lancers to return to the court and finish the game.
Big man Fletcher Galvez added 16 for the Eagles as he led an 18-4 blast in the third quarter that gave Sacred Heart a 64-56 lead entering the payoff period.
The Baby Lancers countered with a 12-3 run to take a 68-67 lead capped by a Paul Desiderio floater, before Araw-Araw took over and put the Eagles in front for good.
League MVP Dawn Ochea and Gio Laguyo hit a free throw each to stretch Sacred Heart’s lead to 71-68.
The Baby Lancers’ final stand came on two free throws by RJ Dinolan to make it 71-70, after which Laguyo came up big once more with a coast-to-coast lay-up.
Desiderio had 19 points to lead UV, while Dinolan chipped in 14 markers.