MORAGA -- Joey Frenchwood delivered in the clutch -- twice -- to help the Newark Memorial High boys basketball team survive a major challenge from upstart Concord on Saturday, as the Cougars earned a 74-70 win to capture a third consecutive North Coast Section Division II title
Frenchwood provided the go-ahead layup with 34 seconds left to break a 69-69 tie, then the steady point guard showed no nerves in sinking two game-clinching free throws with 11 seconds to play at Saint Mary's College.
"It was just do everything you do in practice, nothing changed," said Frenchwood, who led the Cougars with 24 points. "Same routine on the free throws, and I made the right move and made a good play for my team."
No. 4 seeded Concord, which earned overtime victories in the quarterfinals and semifinals, was on the verge of an upset in their first ever trip to an NCS championship game. The Minutemen led 52-46 entering the final period before the Cougars' Michael Pickney drained three 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter to help Newark Memorial (23-7) recover.
The final quarter featured four ties and seven lead changes.
"It was great game, great high school atmosphere," said Newark Memorial coach Craig Ashmore. "Give them a lot of credit, we were frustrated all night trying to stop them. Luckily we made enough plays at the end to be successful."
Pickney added 19 points for Newark Memorial, which could be selected for the Open Division when CIF Northern Regional tournament brackets are released Sunday. Forward Damien Banford had 11 points and 18 rebounds.
Siaan Rojas scored 19 points for Concord (22-8), and Spencer Clark added 18.
The Minutemen, who stunned No. 1 seeded Montgomery on the road to earn a trip to the final, didn't panic when Newark Memorial went up 31-20 in the second quarter. Instead, Concord responded with a 9-1 run to get right back in the game.
Clark's 3-pointer after a missed dunk tied the game at 67, then he made a transition layup to put Concord up 69-67 with 1:30 to play. But Newark Memorial scored seven of the game's final eight points to win.
"I think we played a real good game against a real good opponent, but it's rough," Concord coach Ted McDavitt. "It could have gone either way.
Staff writer Phil Jensen contributed to this story.