Serra knocks off LV Lutheran in 4AA
March, 1, 2012
By Blair Angulo | ESPNLosAngeles.com
ANAHEIM -- Kajon Mack and Dakarai Tucker were sophomores when Gardena Serra won section and state titles two years ago. They were handed championship rings but, with guys Marqise Lee doing most of the heavy lifting, it didn't quite feel right.
The senior duo felt grand Thursday afternoon, as Serra captured the CIF-Southern Section Division 4AA crown with a 69-59 victory against La Verne Lutheran at the Anaheim Convention Center Arena. Fellow senior Daddy Ugbede scored 32 points on 14-for-20 shooting, out-dueling Lutheran's Grant Jerrett, an Arizona-bound forward and the state's only McDonald's All-American.
"It feels good to be a part of this now," Mack said smiling.
Tucker added 21 points for top-seeded Serra, which pulled away late in a game that featured 15 lead changes and nine ties. The Del Rey League-champion Cavaliers capitalized on their size advantage down low, out-rebounding the Trojans 36-20 and forcing Jerrett, Lutheran's only big, into foul trouble.
"I'm a firm believer in whoever controls the boards, controls the game," Serra coach Dwan Hurt said. "That's what we talked about in practice."
Serra (29-2) had 10 second-chance points and it proved to be the difference. Jerrett picked up his fourth foul with 1:32 remaining in the third quarter, paving the way for the 6-foot-7 Ugbede. The student section serenaded him with chants of "Who's your Daddy?"
"La Verne Lutheran is a very good team," Hurt said. "We just persevered out there. Once we got rid of Jerrett, Daddy basically had his way down low."
Jerrett finished with 19 points but only five rebounds. Eric Cooper Jr. scored 12 points and Brian Beard had 11 for Lutheran, which now turn its attention a state tournament it has won the last two years.
"If Serra does play us again they know it will be a game," Lutheran coach Eric Cooper Sr. said. "It will definitely be a game. I look forward to state and seeing what these guys do when they step on the court again."
Mack and Tucker, meanwhile, were giddy in the postgame media room, knowing they had just won arguably the most difficult division in the state.
"There's a difference when you're on the bench than being a part of it," Hurt said. "This one is probably more meaningful to them because they know they had a part in it."
Blair Angulo covers preps for ESPN Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter.