Preps: J.J. Pavia
February, 22, 2011
By Blair Angulo | ESPNLosAngeles.com
LA VERNE -- The tight-knit community had to pick a side Tuesday night.
Whom to cheer for? The No. 4-seeded Damien Spartans? The No. 5-seeded Bonita Bearcats? And, perhaps most important, what to wear? Both schools use green as a primary color.
La Verne residents couldn't dodge this one. Damien's campus sits on the corner of Damien Avenue and -- you guessed it -- Bonita Avenue. Turn right on Bonita and take it for a mile until you hit D Street. Make a left and, poof, you've made the quick jump, er, trip from one campus to the other.
Calling this a battle for city bragging rights wouldn't do it justice.
When the dust settled, Sierra League champion Damien (26-3) emerged victorious, 52-44, and advanced to next week's CIF Southern Section Division 3A semifinals. With Hacienda League champion Bonita (26-4) eliminated, the small town of 30,000 figures to follow the Spartans wherever they go next.
"It's a really respectful rivalry," Damien coach Matt Dunn said. "I know we have the utmost respect for them and as a community, it's a lot of fun. We both play with the kids that come to our schools and I think that's what makes it special. This year we both happened to be very good."
On this night, Damien was just a tad bit better.
Bonita had the game's two leading scorers -- Jordan Butler had 15 and James Northup had 11 -- but Dunn had balance with seven of his players scoring at least six points. Clayton White and Gian Demano led the Spartans with nine each, J.P. Chakbazof and J.J. Pavia scored eight apiece.
Dunn's biggest player, though, left his mark late. Damien led by two with less than a minute to go when leading scorer Chris Reyes tipped in a miss. Half of the crowd went wild. You could finally distinguish who was rooting for the home team and who wasn't.
"That tip-in was big," Reyes said. "We needed to get a score right there."
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