Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Inland Empire and LA South: No. 6 Etiwanda 53, Glendora 42
By Blair Angulo
GLENDORA -- Whatever you do, don't call it a bounce back. No, Etiwanda coach Dave Kleckner insisted that his team had long dismissed Saturday's loss, its first of the season.
Instead, refer to Etiwanda's 53-42 win at Glendora on Tuesday as a return to normalcy. This is what the Eagles (23-1, 7-0), ranked No. 6 in ESPNLA.com's latest rankings, expected all along. Saturday wasn't a bump on the road -- more like a traffic sign or lane marking. With the win, Etiwanda clinched a share of the Baseline League title and can take it outright Friday against Upland.
"It had nothing to do with our game on Saturday, that's over with and we're focused now on winning a league title," Kleckner said. "Heading into the season our goal was to be undefeated league champions and we've still got three games to go to accomplish that."
With USC-bound Byron Wesley on its side, Etiwanda might very well finish with the lone blemish -- a 70-64 loss to Loyola at the Fairfax State Preview Classic. Sensing that he needed to take control, Wesley had a team-high 19 points Tuesday. Eleven came after halftime and virtually offset the 20 super sophomore Nick Colletta dropped for Glendora (19-5, 4-3).
Etiwanda actually trailed, 24-22, at the half before revving its defensive intensity in the third quarter.
"Basically, for Glendora, this was the game they had to win to compete for a league championship," Kleckner said. "We knew they were going to come out with a lot of energy and intensity. They have tough, hard-nosed kids -- we knew they would come out with that sort of energy level. We told our kids that going in. It wasn't: 'Let's get revenge because we lost a game.' We just talked about having to be mentally and physically tough, especially knowing Glendora was going to come out the way it did."
The Eagles answered the call, going on a 10-0 run in the first three minutes of the second half. They never looked back, keeping their sights on every other Tartan while contesting every Colletta jumper. Colletta had all six of Glendora's third-quarter points.
"He's a real good player," Wesley said. "He was making tough shots. We were playing great D on him but he was just making tough shots. I applaud him for that."
Wesley might have to save some applause for himself. The senior guard opened the second half with the go-ahead three, then pump-faked his way to the basket again and again the rest of the way. He spoke afterward about the importance of having momentum heading into the postseason. Tuesday's win gives Etiwanda that opportunity without the thought of bouncing back.
"We talked to our kids a lot about staying even keeled and not having emotional ups and downs," Kleckner said. "I'm proud of the way our kids performed, definitely."