SANTA ANA -- Long Beach Poly forward Jordan Bell was in the middle of explaining his team's victory. Defense was suffocating. Role players did their part.
Then Orange Lutheran star Gabe York walked by and Bell, in mid-sentence, extended his left arm and patted him on the chest.
"And we shut down Gabe York," he said, smiling.
Frankly, that was the key to second-ranked Long Beach Poly's lopsided 67-45 win against Orange Lutheran in the Nike Extravaganza at Mater Dei. York, the region's premier guard and dynamic scorer, never found his lethal touch. Despite finishing with a team-high 23 points, the Arizona-bound York missed 14 of his 19 shots. He did his damage at the free-throw line and the Jackrabbits (21-1) could live with that.
"Our defense locked it down," said junior wing Roschon Prince, who had a game-high 25 points and nine rebounds. "We put pressure on Gabe."
Moore League leader Long Beach Poly won its 18th straight since losing to Loyola in the Pacific Shores Tournament final on Dec. 3. Last year the Jackrabbits won the CIF-Southern Section Division 1AA title, but were expected to drop off slightly following the loss of key players Ryan Anderson (Boston College) and Alexis Moore (USC) to graduation.
That hasn't been the case.
"At the beginning of the year people thought we weren't supposed to be a good team," Prince said. "The loss to Loyola humbled us. Ever since then we've played together."
Said coach Sharrief Metoyer: "A lot of these guys know what it takes to win. Defense is about five guys on the floor playing together."
Meanwhile, 15th-ranked Orange Lutheran (14-10) is in a tailspin, having lost four straight and eight of its last 10. In the first half, the Lancers missed 15 of their 18 shots and finished with only 10 field goals all game.
Little-known Reuben Strickland had a career-high 21 points for Poly.
"Our defense led to this victory," said Bell, who was credited with three blocked shots. "We had players come up big today."
Blair Angulo covers preps for ESPN Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter.