LOS ANGELES — Forgive David Nwaba and the University High Wildcats if they felt a little bit of deja vu after Friday night's 65-48 loss to San Pedro in the City Section Boys Division II championship at Roybal Learning Center.
Because, after all, the Wildcats' 2009-2010 season started and ended with a loss to San Pedro.
On Nov. 30, University opened up their season at home by losing to the Pirates, 74-66. San Pedro coach John Bobich said his team studied film this week in practice — and specifically of Nwaba — but didn't depend too much on it.
"Both teams have got a whole lot better since then," Bobich said. "So we knew it was gonna be a grind."
Nwaba — University's star 6-foot-4 forward — had a great all-around game, with 24 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and four blocks, but the junior was less then complimentary of his performance afterward.
"I could've played better defense, made less turnovers, scored more," he said.
The Pirates, trying a variety of tactics to defend the athletic forward, finally managed to slow him down in the second half. Nwaba played all but 37 seconds of the final 16 minutes of the game but only attempted six shots.
"He had a little floater that he could drop in over everybody," said Johnny Allen, San Pedro's leading scorer with 16 points. "But as the game went on, we tried to stop them and it starting working a little bit."
Bobich added that he appeared worn down by the end of the game. Only six Wildcats played more than seven minutes.
The Pirates, who finished fourth in their seven-team Marine League, haven't allowed more than 47 points since Feb. 5. Their vaunted press forced the Wildcats into an early hole they could never recover from, as San Pedro led 10-4 before University coach Steve Ackerman could call a timeout.
The Pirates opened up their lead to 24-8 at one point in the second quarter when Allen stole the ball in the University backcourt and dished to Tyler Rogosic for a layup.
"Everybody underestimates our defense," said Rogosic, who, along with twin brother Anthony, had 20 points and nine assists. "They know what we do, but they don't know how we do it."
But despite the Pirates' early-season victory, University was a bit of a favorite — having been the No. 4 seed to San Pedro's No. 7.
"I think we were on the favored side," Nwaba said. "We were expecting to win this game."