Los Angeles Preps: Cliff Sims Jr.
Leading by a basket with 15 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Tarabilda, somehow, someway, got loose underneath the basket and hit a shot while being fouled. He stepped to the line and calmly made the subsequent free throw to secure a 50-44 victory over Compton and a title for the Knighthawks (27-4).
“There wasn’t much time left on the clock and I knew I had to get to the rack,’’ Tarabilda said. “The shot fell and then I had to focus on the free throw. It felt good when it left my hands, I knew it was going in.’’
Unfortunately, for Compton (18-13), Cliff Sims Jr. picked the wrong day to have one of his poorest games of the season. He entered as the team’s leading scorer, averaging more than 17 points.
Sims, however, managed a mere 12 points on three-for-16 shooting from the field and a five-for-14 effort from the free-throw line.
Give him credit, Sims Jr. never gave up. His jumper tied the score, 41-41, with 4:30 left in the fourth quarter and a three-pointer moved Compton to within two points with 45 seconds left.
Shane Hurley hit two free throws though and Tarabilda’s three-point play down the stretch clinched the victory.
Sims Jr. struggled from start to finish, scoring three points in the first half on one-for-seven shooting. He attempted one shot in the third quarter and missed it.
Allan Guei took it upon himself to keep the Tarbabes close. He scored eight points in the second quarter, highlighted by a layup just before the halftime buzzer to give Compton a 27-22 lead at the break.
It was more of the same in the third quarter, Guei having his way with the Murrieta Valley defense. His layup at 4:19 gave Compton a four-point lead.
The Knighthawks answered, Jackson Helms in particular. He made a layup and knocked down a baseline jumper to give Murrieta Valley a 34-32 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Justin Gudger did a good job of scoring in first half for the Knighthawks. He had 13 points while no other Murrieta Valley player had more than four points at intermission.
For those up at the crack of dawn, Gardena Serra (29-2) and Compton Centennial (25-5) are set to tip-off at 9 a.m. The showdown promises to be an entertaining affair, worth waking up a tad bit early for. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to see Deonte Burton. The 6-foot-1 senior for the Apaches is as dynamic as they come, a tremendous scorer who’s considered one of the West Coast’s top unsigned prospects. Serra is no slouch and counters with the talented backcourt tandem of Vaughn Autry and Keith Shamburger. The guard play figures to be the difference in this one.
Shortly thereafter, Murrieta Valley (26-4) and Compton (18-12) take the court, scheduled for 10:45 a.m. The Knighthawks have made a rather remarkable run to the finals, upsetting top-seeded Summit and fourth-seeded Alta Loma en route to the championship game. It doesn’t appear as if anyone can stop them. The Tarbabes would like to think otherwise. Cliff Sims Jr. & Co. come in with plenty of confidence after shocking second-seeded Edison in the semifinals. When all is said and done, one of these Cinderella teams is going to realize its dreams.
No one in Southern California is hotter than top-seeded Rialto Eisenhower (27-5), which enters its 12:30 p.m. game against Pasadena (24-6) with 18 consecutive victories. Picking your poison against the Eagles is tricky given the fact that they have several players capable of scoring in double digits. Focusing attention on any one individual could prove costly. For the Bulldogs to remain close, Steven Adams will have to play a prominent role. Make no mistake, all signs point to the 6-foot-9, 230- pound post player being capable. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen.
Santa Monica (24-6) is another one of those teams that was supposed to be on the outside looking in at this stage. The eighth-seeded Vikings didn’t stand much of a chance against fourth-seeded Colony or top-seeded Chino Hills. But low and behold, here they are, in the 2:15 p.m. championship game against Leuzinger (23-6). Amir Garrett might be an underclassman, but the 6-foot-6 junior certainly doesn’t play like he has limited experience at the varsity level. If he approaches his averages, 17.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, the Olympians should take home the title.