Arroyo Grande all but wrapped up the outright Mountain League title Monday night after what transpired in San Luis Obispo.
Arroyo Grande, though, didn't play in San Luis Obispo. Mission Prep, however, did.
The Royals upset St. Joseph, which came into the game tied with Arroyo Grande in the Mountain League standings, 62-60, giving the Eagles a one-game lead over the Knights with a game to go.
The Eagles defeated Pioneer Valley 60-39 Monday night in Santa Maria, moving to 9-2 in league games and 21-5 overall.
Mission Prep dropped St. Joseph to 8-3 in league games and 21-7 overall. The Knights went unbeaten in the first round of league play, but have dropped three of their last five league games in the second round.
St. Joseph closes out the regular season Wednesday at Righett (6-19, 4-7).
"We knew coming in that this game was going to come down to a couple possessions," St. Joseph coach Tom Mott said. "Down the stretch, coach (Terrance) Harris did a tremendous job. They converted a few and we missed a few."
Arroyo Grande would have to fall to Paso Robles (10-16, 3-8) on Wednesday in the regular-season finale for St. Joseph to split the league title with the Eagles, if the Knights beat Righetti in their finale.
Paso Robles handed St. Joseph one of its three league losses in a 87-84 stunner a couple weeks ago. Arroyo Grande beat Paso 85-37 in the first round of league play.
Early in Monday night's game against Mission Prep, it appeared St. Joseph would take care of business against the Royals.
The Knights quickly built up a 13-3 lead in the first quarter, and Mission Prep coach Terrence Harris quickly took a timeout, trying to help his team find some rhythm.
It worked. The Royals closed the first quarter on a run and cut the Knights' lead to 19-18 after the first quarter.
But St. Joseph again began to pull away, taking a 33-26 lead in the second quarter. But, again, the Royals clawed back to trail 34-30 at the break.
Bryce Hilton had 11 points and Marc Vidal added 10 in the first half for the Royals. Kainoa Keuma led St. Joseph with 10 points in the first half as Angel Ortiz added seven and EJ Brinez and Jincho Rivera each added six.
Steven Vasquez provided the Knights with a pair of big buckets, capping the third quarter with a three to give his team a 48-46 lead then starting the fourth quarter with another trey to make St. Joseph's lead 51-46.
St. Joseph senior Chase Artopoeus then contributed with a pair of timely baskets, scoring on a baseline drive before scoring on an offensive rebound to make the score 55-50 in favor of the Knights.
Then Carlton Brown III, Mission Prep's talented sophomore, came alive, knocking down consecutive 3-pointers, the first of which gave the Royals a 56-55 lead and the second putting the Royals ahead 58-57.
Keuma then tied the game for the Knights with a big-time 3-pointer, making the score 60-all.
Mission Prep's Assani Berkeley, perhaps the most talented player in San Luis Obispo County, set up the biggest basket of the game. The sophomore took the ball at the top of the key, then drove to his right, spun at the free throw line and dumped off a pass for Brown in the paint.
Brown laid the basket in for the game's final points.
"The maturity that we showed today was great," said Harris, Mission Prep's coach. "For a young team that has had some difficulties down the stretch in games, I'm really proud of the fact that guys who struggled early in this game stuck with it and had huge plays down the stretch for us."
St. Joseph had several attempts at a game-tying basket, but couldn't convert. The Knights had one final try with 0.3 seconds left and drew up a tip-drill to Rivera, who had a good look but couldn't get the shot to drop.
"With 0.3 seconds you don't get much of a chance. Coach (Garrett) Wood drew up a good play but we just missed it by a couple inches," Mott said. "We have to get ready for Righetti. Tonight, we got in some scoring lulls. That's gonna happen when you play a good defensive team. We're fine, we battled tonight on the road and we'll be ready for Wednesday."
St. Joseph defeated Mission Prep 79-75 at home in the first round of league play. All of its losses in league have come on the road.
The Royals and Knights always seem to play tight games.
"The coaching staffs know each other very well, the kids know each other very well," Harris said. "We've got a feel for them and they've got a feel for us. There's not too many surprises out there. That's a big reason why it's close so often between us. We're both competitive programs that do our best to stay on top and we battle. It's fun. It's always a fun battle against those guys."
Arroyo Grande 60, Pioneer Valley 39
The Eagles defeated the Panthers on Pioneer Valley's' Senior Night.
Bryan Smith popped in 22 points for the Eagles. Steven Fuerte scored a game high 24 for the Panthers.