Tommy Condon had the basketball on the right wing. With the San Marcos High boys team nursing a three-point lead in the final minute of its CIF-Southern Section 2A first round playoff game against visiting Agoura, Condon was just looking to make a play.
With a hard jab step, he sent his defender, Sam Klassan, to the floor. Condon then calmly steadied himself behind the 3-point line and fired. The ball hit the front of the rim, bounced high in the air, and dropped through the net in what was a backbreaker for Agoura.
Condon sealed the game with that shot, and three free throws in the closing seconds to give the Royals a 63-55 victory on Wednesday night at the Thunderhut.
San Marcos moved into the second round of the Division 2A playoffs, where it will play at Bonita on Friday night.
“That was big, especially since it bounced,” Royals coach Jelani Hicks said. “That was a big shot. That was a good team. They never let us run away with it. They always stayed close, so having guys like Tommy and the other guys who knocked down big shots down the stretch, was huge for us.”
Condon came off the bench to score 15 points, which included four 3-pointers.
His return to the San Marcos lineup has been huge for the Royals. Condon was thought to be done for the season when he suffered a stress fracture in his foot just before the season began. But through an intense rehab program, he made it back in time for Channel League play. He was a shining star for the Royals on Wednesday night.
“That’s what he does,” Hicks said. “He’s a scorer for us. He started it off last year for us. He’s typically a starter for us, but just because of the injury and him coming in so late, and how we were rocking and rolling by the time he came back, we just thought it would be great to have a high-octane, high-powering weapon coming off the bench.
“He’s been great for us since he’s been back.”
As for one of the biggest shots he has made since his return, Condon felt like he had it all the way.
“When I was initially in the play, I was just trying to draw a foul to go to the free-throw line,” he said. “Once (Klassan) fell, I turned around and there was no one in front of me, so I just decided to shoot it. I have a lot of confidence in my shot. Even though it hit the front of the rim, I still had confidence that it would go in.”
For a while in the first half, it didn’t look like San Marcos would need the late-game heroics of Condon, or junior guard Isaiah Hicks, who finished with a team-high 16 points.
The Royals led by as many as 13 in the second quarter, but saw that lead completely disappear when Agoura point guard Jed Miller made a 3-pointer, then stole the ball and scored on a layup to give the Chargers a 38-37 lead with 2:18 to go in the third quarter.
Miller, who was fouled three times while shooting 3-pointers, led all scorers with 29 points. It was after he gave his team the lead that things could have gotten away from the Royals on their home floor.
But San Marcos didn’t let that happen.
Junior guard John Connolly, who finished with 14 points, buried a 3-pointer on the Royals next possession to put them back in front at 40-38. San Marcos never trailed again. Isaiah Hicks, like Condon, was a big contributor in the fourth quarter with six points.
“We just tried to stay calm and stay to our game,” Isaiah Hicks said. “We didn’t let our game change. We stayed to our plan and we just really turned it up on defense.
“That was the main factor. We weren’t nervous. We knew it’s a game of runs, and if we stayed calm and just followed our game plan, we’d be fine.”
Hicks made a number of big plays at both ends of the floor, something, according to his coach, he’s been making a habit of in recent weeks.
“He’s been (controlling things) for us for about the last month, I would say,” Jelani Hicks said. “He’s just really stepping into his own role as kind of being a floor general. He kind of does what’s necessary.
“He always brings it on the defensive end, and, offensively, he’s been doing a good job of scoring or looking to score when we need it, and getting everyone involved when we need it, as well. He’s doing a good job of just being a good floor general for us.”
As for staying cool under pressure when Agoura took the lead in the third quarter, Jelani Hicks said it had a lot to do with what the Royals have already been through this season.
“I think it goes back to our pre-league schedule,” he said. “We’ve been in a lot of games like this where as soon as we let off the gas, the team’s coming back. This is what you should expect in a playoff game, just because everyone wants to win and keep playing.
“We’ve just got to kind of hold on and fight for our principles and regroup. That’s why I’m glad we have so many timeouts to use so that we can just kind of shake things up, make some adjustments. Our guys have been doing a good job of regrouping and executing those adjustments. That’s the big thing.”
It was on Wednesday night.