Sometimes, losses have their benefits. The La Verne Lutheran boys' basketball team can attest to that.
The Trojans last lost on Feb. 25, against Los Angeles Price, in the CIF-Southern Section Division 3AA semifinals. Lutheran fell by five after trailing by as many as 21 midway through the third quarter. It may have been a blessing in disguise, particularly because the Trojans had to turn up their intensity to make a mind-numbing 23-4 run.
Junior forward Grant Jerrett was spectacular, pulling the Trojans to within two following left hooks galore. He posted a game-high 26 points against no slouch -- Price's Norvel Pelle, one of the nation's premier forwards who's headed to St. John's next season.
Fast forward three weeks and 11th-seeded Lutheran (24-5) is still alive and kicking. The Trojans don't head into Saturday's CIF State Division III Southern California regional final against top-seeded La Cañada (30-3) at Galen Center as heavy underdogs.
“They’re huge,” La Cañada coach Tom Hofman said. “They’re a good team. It should be a good game. It will be a tough one.”
Jerrett is listed at 6 feet 9 and has two teammates over 6-7. The tallest starter for La Cañada, forward Matt Faber, is 6-5. It's not difficult to guess what Lutheran coach Eric Cooper Sr. will be asking for from the bench.
Lutheran has been throwing the ball down low throughout regional play. The defending state champion Trojans beat San Diego University City, Orange Lutheran and Harvard-Westlake to get to the Galen Center. The last two wins -- against the third-seeded and second-seeded teams -- were by a combined 33 points.
La Cañada received a bye in the first round, then defeated Encino Crespi and Inglewood to get to the title game.
"You know, we're thrilled," La Cañada guard Michael McGlashan said. "Going into Galen Center, we've got nothing to lose. That's a great thing. We're just going to play our hearts out."
Information from ESPNLosAngeles.com Preps blogger Tim Haddock was used in this report.