by Frank Burlison
LA VERNE, Ca. – The No. 1 seeds in each division “survived and advanced” – with varying degrees of difficulty – during Monday’s first day of the first-ever Classic at Damien Tournament.
The top seeds advancing to the Tuesday quarterfinals were the Gold’s Santa Mater Dei Dei (54-41 over Lynwood in Damien High’s Athletic Center), the Silver’s Woodland Hills Taft (64-45 over Palmdale Highland in Damien’s Event Center) and the Bronze’s La Canada (72-49 against Rialto at Life Pacific College).
Second-round action, on both the winners’ and consolation sides of the brackets in the respective divisions, begins Tuesday morning at 9:30 in the Damien Event Center (Silver), at 10 in the Damien Athletic Center (Gold) and at 3 p.m. at San Dimas (winners’ side Bronze) and Life Pacific (consolation side Bronze).
A closer look at Monday’s action, beginning with the Gold Division clashes:
Quite the 1-2 combination . . .
Seniors Matt Mitchell and Jemarl Baker of Eastvale Roosevelt looked every bit the part of one of the elite scoring duos in Southern California over the first month of the season and that was demonstrated to the nth degree during the Mustangs’ surprisingly one-sided 87-63 decision against Santa Monica.
Six-foot-six Matt Mitchell scored 33 points to go with eight rebounds and five assists while 6-4 Jemarl Baker drilled eight 3-pointers – most of those a lot closer to the 25-foot region than the 19-9 3-point line – en route to 31 points to go with three rebounds and five assists.
Junior forward De’sean Allen-Eikens led the Vikings with 20 points.
Upset alert – and actualization . . .
Etiwanda trailed by as many as 12 points in the second quarter before using its collective backcourt strength and the play of 6-5 junior Kessler Edwards to upset No. 4 seed Las Vegas Centennial, 66-62.
The Bulldogs found themselves down by 11 (53-42) with about five minutes to go but got to within three points a couple of times, the last of those at 65-62.
A jumper by Oregon-bound Troy Brown from the left wing after a handoff from Isaiah Banks would have tied the score but was short and wide right with three seconds to go.
Elijah Harkless sank an insurance free throw a second later for the final score.
Juniors Krystian Wilson and Edwards led the Eagles with 22 and 16 points, respectively, while senior point guard Miles Oliver added 14.
Six-nine senior Darian Scott and 5-9 classmate Alijah Henderson had 14 each for Centennial.
Monarchs overcome a sluggish first three quarters . . .
Coach Gary McKnight’s Mater Dei team took an 11-1 record and top seed into its game with a Lynwood squad that had lost five of its eight games.
But the underdog Knights, trying to spread the floor and go deep into the 35-second shot clock, took a 12-5 lead after one quarter and were still up late in the third quarter until Harrison Butler’s dunk of fellow junior Spencer Freedman’s miss to put the Monarchs up to stay, 34-33, and Freedman scored on a drive for his second buzzer-beater of the afternoon.
The Knights were never within closer than three points the rest of the way as Jamal Bogan got them to within 44-41 with two free throws with 3:38 to go before Mater Dei closed things on a 10-0 run.
Senior forward Justice Sueing scored 14 of his team-high 16 points after intermission for the Monarchs while juniors Michael Wang (12), Freedman (eight), Butler (eight) and Reagan Lundeen (seven) combined for 35.
Birmingham turned it up a couple notches in second half . . .
Lake Balboa Birmingham, possibly the best team in the L.A. City ranks, trailed Oak Park by 12 points at intermission of the first Gold game of the day.
But the Patriots, led by brothers Devante (23) and Devonaire (17) Doutrive – who combined for 40 points – and a 25-point effort by senior point guard Deschon Winston, picked up the pace at both ends of the floor and eventually held on to win, 81-78.
Six-eight junior Riley Battin scored a day-high 35 points for Oak Park – 25 in the second half
Zafir Williams helps propel Long Beach Poly into quarters . . .
The 6-5, Loyola Marymount-bound forward scored 25 points – 13 of those in the fourth quarter – as the Jackrabbits improved to 7-4 while overcoming a seven-point deficit early in the third quarter and pulling away down the stretch for a 71-55 win over Temecula Rancho Christian. Sophomore forward Isaiah Mobley led Rancho Christian with 21 points.
Trinity League makes it 2-for-2 on Monday . . .
Bellflower St. John Bosco joined fellow Trinity League member Mater Dei in moving to the quarterfinals with its 73-41 win over Encino Crespi.
Senior guard J.J Watson led the Braves with 18 points, 15 of those coming via five buckets from behind the arc.
Crespi was minus two starters from its 2016 California State Division I championship squad in guards Brandon Williams and Taj Regans, who are sidelined with injuries.
Corona Centennial in a start-to-finish impressive effort . . .
The Huskies’ game with Mission Hills Alemany had the looks of being one of the tightest first-day confrontations.
But Coach Josh Giles’ squad pretty much seized control of things immediately and never let the metaphorical foot off the pedal while sprinting to a 70-50 victory.
Senior guard Isom Butler led the way with 20 points while classmates Jalen Hill (18) and Gio Nelson (15) combined for 33 more.
And the tourney host closes out things in style . . .
Junior guard Elijah McCullough sank five 3s in the first quarter to help the Damien Spartans sprint to a 34-12 lead after eight minutes and to close out the Hayward Moreau Catholic squad, 85-64.
Damien, which sank 10 shots from behind the arc in the first half, was led by Cameron Shelton (23 points), a 6-2 transfer from Chino Hills who was selected the Most Outstanding Player in the Riverside Sierra Vista and La Canada tourneys won earlier this season by the 11-0 Spartans.
McCullough added another 3 in the second quarter and didn’t score again while finishing with 18 points.
Freshman Kyree Walker led the lads from Northern California with 22 points.
In the Silver Division:
Jules was a jewel indeed for L.A. Windward . . .
Six-five junior Jules Bernard scored his team’s final 11 points to put things into overtime and then followed in his own miss with three seconds to go in OT to give Windward its 71-70 win over Palmdale Knight.
Twenty of Bernard’s 33 points came over the final 12 minutes (eight in the fourth quarter and four in OT).
Windward was playing without one of its best players as senior guard Jalen Harris will be sidelined for the remainder of the season with a knee injury suffered a couple of weeks ago.
That’s what you call a “rally” . . .
Lawndale Leuzinger trailed Moreno Valley Rancho Verde by as many as 14 points in the third quarter and by 10 – yes, 10 – with 30 seconds to go in the fourth quarter.
But the Olympians pulled out a 61-60 stunner with a 35-point performance in that fourth quarter that was capped by freshman Amound Anderson’s 3-pointer from beyond the top of the key that cleared the rim and net at the buzzer.
The left-handed Anderson scored 15 of his team-high points in the fourth quarter, including seven of eight free-throw attempts.
Anderson sank two of three attempts with 3.4 seconds to go to get his team to within two points, then senior Anthony Hamilton picked off the inbound pass and immediately whipped a pass to Anderson, who caught the ball and fired immediately for the game-winning jumper.
No first-round strain for Taft . . .
Junior point guard Kihei Clark scored 26 points – including four 3s in the second half – and kept the top-seed Toreadors comfortably in front over the second half after taking a five-point lead at the half.
Junior center Antwan January (whose brother, Anthony, led Taft to an L.A. City title a few years ago) added 19 points for Taft.
Down 10 at half but moves into winners’ side of bracket . . .
No. 2 seed Hacienda Heights Los Altos trailed Long Beach Jordan at intermission, 41-31.
But the Conquerors scored the first 14 points in the third quarter and went on to win, 69-64, and improve to 9-0.
Sophomore Jarod Lucas (19) and juniors Julian Lopez (16) and Bryant Howing (13) combined for 48 points for Los Altos.
Down-to-the-wire for the win . . .
Senior forward Darren Calhoun scored 19 points as the Dominguez Dons broke out to a 10-point lead in the first quarter before hanging on for the victory against L.A. Price.
Salting it away from the free-throw line . . .
Rancho Cucamonga sank 10 of 12 free-throw attempts over the final quarter to help secure its 63-56 decision against Playa del Rey St. Bernard.
Five Cougars scored at least eight points, with senior Kahlil McGuire pacing that group with 17 points.
Sophomore guard Amani "Mook" Harris led the way for the Vikings with 20 points.
Balance is the key . . .
Four Claremont players scored at least 14 points with senior guard Kyle Scalmanini leading the way with 17 as his team edged San Luis Obispo Mission Prep, 67-66.
Six-six senior Carter Gran led all scorers with 20 points for Mission Prep.
Reppin’ San Diego County . . .
Vista hit 11 shots from behind the arc as the all-junior starting backcourt of Taurus Samuels
(25) and Isaiah Morris (22) combined for 47 points to spark the Panthers past Ontario Colony, 82-69, in the division’s final game Monday night.
In the Bronze Division:
(at San Dimas High)
La Canada 72, Rialto 49. Top scorers: Justin Kouyoumdjian (LC) 19. Derrion Thomas (R) 14.
Fontana Kaiser 67, Valencia Trinity Classical 29. Top scorers: Derrick Irenen (K) 14. Kobe Schafer (TC) 14.
Diamond Bar 56, Victory Valley 42. Top scorers: Malik Corey (DB) 32. Joey Mulender (VV) 17.
San Dimas 68, Pomona 34. Top scorers: Donnell Leffridge (SD) 15. Ivan Richmond (P) 8.
(at Life Pacific College)
Hesperia 63, Pico Rivera El Rancho 27. Top scorers: Jimmy Ott (H) 13. Art Angles (ER) 14.
Riverside La Sierra 56, Alta Loma 44. Top scorers: Matt Martin (LS) 18. Jerod Elliot (AL) 16.
West Covina 64, Victorville Silverado 59. Top scorers: Nick Hart (WC) 31. Rodney Hardrick (S) 16.
Pasadena La Salle 63, Buckeye (AZ) Verrado 43. Top scorers: Darius Henderson (LS) 12. Jackson Morton (V) 7.