LOS ANGELES -- Fontana Summit coach Steven Hickey and his players admitted they had their sights set on only one team earlier this season.
Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln.
The motivation paid off, as 10th-seeded Summit upset top-seeded San Diego Lincoln, 74-69, Saturday afternoon at Galen Center to advance to the CIF State Division II boys' basketball championship game in Sacramento next week. With the win, the SkyHawks redeemed their loss to the Hornets in last year's Southern California regionals.
"That loss last year stuck with us," Summit's Dorian Cason said. "That's all we could talk about."
Defending state champion Lincoln (31-2) appeared to be heading for a repeat, leading by as many as 12 in the first half and 13 in the second. Summit (28-7) pulled to within five early in the third quarter, forcing Lincoln coach Jason Bryant to call a timeout. The Hornets drew up an alley-oop for UCLA-bound Norman Powell, who slammed it through uncontested for some breathing room.
But the SkyHawks rose above it.
"I knew they had an axe to grind," Bryant said. "These guys were ready and mad about losing in our gym last year."
Summit was hardly fazed, taking its first lead of the game early in fourth quarter on a Montigo Alford pull-up jumper. Alford then nailed a three-pointer and hit a floater on consecutive possessions. The sequence was at the heart of a 14-1 run to begin the fourth.
"At the beginning of the year all we could talk about was Lincoln," said Alford, who scored a team-high 18 points. "We had them last year. We had to play our game."
Lincoln, meanwhile, hadn't played a close game in months. The Hornets easily won a San Diego Section title and breezed their way to Galen with wins of 22 and 31 points in the state playoffs. Yet Lincoln was off the mark at the free-throw line, making just 11 of 21 attempts. Powell had a game-high 21, but he missed nine of his 10 three-pointers.
"Really, it was about finding my range," Powell said. "There's no backdrop [at Galen], so I tried to stay with it. Usually I make those. It just wasn't my night."
Summit will vie for a state title in just its fifth year as a varsity program.
"This shows everybody that we're a very good team," Devon Alexander said. "I don't think a lot of people believed in us."
Blair Angulo covers preps and UCLA for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.