Westchester (Los Angles) 45 , Capistrano Valley (Mission Viejo) 42
Since his team wasn't running the sets he wanted and with the game in the balance, Westchester head coach Ed Azzam had simple instructions for his team.
"I told them to go try and steal the ball," Azzam said of his team's effective full-court press late in the game. "We're going to get a steal, or they were going to make a three or lay-up."
With 4:26 remaining in the game, Westchester took a lead it would not relinquish on a steal that led to a pair of free throws by senior Je’ron Primus. He came back, stole the inbounds pass and converted a conventional 3-point play. For Primus, who led the Comets in scoring with 15 points, it was his eighth consecutive point and gave the Comets just enough cushion after they picked up the defensive intensity.
Westchester (19-5) played solid defense for the last 34 seconds of the game as Capistrano Valley (21-3) could not capitalize with a solid look on its last possession. The only shot the Cougars were able to put up was a off-balance, desperation 3-pointer from 22 feet out.
"We had a foul to give and it was the best defensive possession we had the whole game," Azzam said. "You got to give the kids credit for that one."
The flow of the game picked up in the second quarter as the teams went into halftime tied 18-18. Capo Valley had a three point lead (31-28) entering the fourth quarter.
Jonny Bates led Capo Valley with 17 points. Capistrano Valley came into the game with two losses, its most recent being a 47-43 setback to Crenshaw (Los Angeles). The other was at the hands of state No. 1 Mater Dei (Santa Ana), 91-55.
Westchester has won six games in a row, including an upset win over state No. 17 La Verne Lutheran last week. The Comets' last loss came against rival Fairfax (Los Angeles) on January 25.
Fairfax (Los Angeles) 73, Eisenhower (Rialto) 67
Fairfax came back from a 38-31 third quarter deficit to win the first game of the Nike Extravaganza’s evening session.
With his team leading 61-59 with 3:16 left in the contest, Fairfax senior Brendyn Taylor got hot. The View Park (Los Angeles) transfer hit a 3-pointer and then came back with a NBA-range 3-pointer. Taylor followed that up by going 4-for-4 from the foul line in the closing seconds to seal the deal.
The 6-foot-2 guard led Fairfax (17-9) with a team-high 22 points, including 10-of-10 from the free-throw line. He scored 10 of Fairfax's final 12 points over the final 3:16 of the game.
After finally becoming eligible following a hiatus of more than one calendar year, Taylor's scoring has made a big difference for a team having trouble finding consistent scoring. His play could be key in a wide-open race for the L.A. City Section Division I title.
"With the way he goes, our team goes," Fairfax coach Harvey Kitani said. "He's sat out a year and a half, so you can see glimpses of what he can do.
"We have to improve offensively and covert the looks we get."
Marvelle Harris led Eisenhower (16-7) with a game-high 25 points. He was almost as hot as Taylor down the stretch, matching him with back-to-back treys. Unfortunately for the Eagles’ faithful, his 3-pointer with 1:19 remaining were the team’s last points.
Despite playing with foul trouble, Ocean View 7-foot center Conor Clifford dominated the paint and finished with a double-double 26 points and 13 rebounds in a win that wasn’t as close as the score indicates.
Ocean View (21-3) had four other players in double-figure scoring. Josh Mishler and Robby Weaver each had 14 and Dillon Reise had 12 points.
Max Redfeld led Mission Viejo (21-3) with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Cordell Anderson had 18 points, Evan Zellar 16 and Jahleel Pinner 11 points. Redfield, a junior, will be one of the state's most recruited football players next year.
JSerra (San Juan Capistrano) 76, Colony (Ontario) 73 OT
It took an extra four minutes, but JSerra (15-7) recorded the victory behind a solid double-double of 26 points and 15 rebounds by 6-foot-7, 230-pound junior Jamal Aytes. Center Kyle Ingram, a 6-9 senior, added 16 points, nine rebounds and three blocks.
Colony (18-7) got a game-high 27 points (with nine rebounds) from Everett Turner. Miles Poullard added 15 points while Kenneth Barnes had a double-double 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Los Alamitos 56, Upland 50
In Saturday's first contest, 6-foot-4, 230-pound Ryan Hurst registered a double-double 27 points and 10 rebounds to lead Los Alamitos (14-11) to victory. Chris Kapano added 10 points. Alfred Brown led Upland (16-9) with 16 points.