REDONDO BEACH, Ca. – Some of Southern California’s better high school basketball teams – and players, in all classes – were on display and in full bloom Saturday during the second day of the Redondo Union High-hosted Take Flight Challenge.
In the sixth, final and showcase game of the day, Santa Margarita pulled away down stretch to knock off Eastvale Roosevelt, 70-64, in a hook-up of two squads that almost certainly will be reasonably high seeds in the CIF Southern Section’s Open Division playoff bracket.
Roosevelt was playing without one of its two-best players in University of California-bound guard Jemarl Baker, sidelined for the second consecutive game in what Coach Steve Singleton deemed a “precautionary” decision because of a swollen knee as a result of a collision in the team’s Classic at Damien Gold Division loss to Damien on Dec. 29.
The Mustangs bounced back the next night to beat league rival Centennial without Baker.
But, despite Matt Mitchell’s 35-point effort (21 of those in the fourth quarter), Roosevelt couldn’t overcome a big, talented and deep Santa Margarita squad.
Jake Kyman – one of the half-dozen or so best sophomores in California – led the Eagles with 22 points (hitting eight of 10 shots from the field, including four 3s) with six rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Junior guard Pearson Parker scored all 15 of his points after intermission for Santa Margarita while dropping in all of his six free throws in the fourth quarter and Dartmouth-bound post Adrease Jackson hit five of six shots from within and around the lane in the second half.
In the other games played Saturday, L.A. Windward held off Compton, 55-48; Villa Park turned in a strong jump shooting effort while toppling L.A. Brentwood, 71-63; L.A. Loyola edged Lawndale Leuzinger, 75-73; Lake Balboa Birmingham outlasted Northridge Heritage Christian, 110-105; and the host Redondo Sea Hawks overcame an early 12-point deficit to knock off Hacienda Heights Los Altos, 85-69.
Six-foot-five junior Jules Bernard scored 15 points while three of his teammates scored from nine to 12 points as Windward improved to 13-3.
Junior guard Christian Swint led the Tarbabes with 16 points.
Villa Park hit 14 shots from behind the 3-point arc – nine of those from seniors Myles Franklin (five) and Imran Takhar – as the Spartans built a big early lead and were never too seriously threatened by Brentwood, which got 21 points from Braelee Albert and 19 from fellow sophomore Sam Clareman.
Sophomore Neil Owens took a pass from senior Kyle Reece and hit a 3 from beyond the top of the key as the buzzer sounded to give Loyola its stunning victory.
One of California’s top – if still mostly “unknown” – freshmen, 6-1 Amound Anderson score a game-high 27 points for Leuzinger while his senior teammate, Damani Washington, added 20.
Defense – in the traditional sense of the word as it pertains to basketball – took 32 minutes off in the Birmingham-Heritage Christian “game” which, in essence, was a layup and jump shooting drill.
There were an orgy of scoring stats, as Birmingham senior Deschon Winston hit 17 of 22 shots from the floor (including five 3s) and four of six free throws for 43 points.
Fellow senior Devante Doutrive added 20 points and 10 assists while his junior brother, Devonaire Doutrive, hit 12 of 19 shots from the floor (including five 3s) en route to 33 points.
Six-five senior Juhwan Harris-Dyson (a teammate of Jemarl Baker’s on Earl Watson Elite and future teammate of Baker’s in Berkeley) scored 21 of his 36 points for Heritage Christian after intermission while sophomore Jonathan Daniels and freshman Dillon DePina scored 16 each.
Redondo trailed Los Altos after one quarter, 20-8, and 34-27 at intermission.
But the Sea Hawks capitalized on his superior depth and team quickness to ring up 58 second-half points.
Twenty-nine of those – 27 in the second half – came by way of 6-2 junior Zekiah LoVett.
Lovett, whose brother (Marcus LoVett) scored 32 points in St. Johns’ Big East loss to Xavier on Saturday, turned in the most stunning jump shooting effort I’ve seen all season.
He was 10 from 10 from the field in the second half and each was a jump shot, four of those from behind the arc.
His presence (he came eligible two weeks ago in the Rancho Mirage Tournament after playing as a sophomore at Gabrielino in San Gabriel) is one of several reasons why Redondo – which also beat a good Camarillo team Friday night and is 12-4 – is likely to make it 4 for 4 in Southern Section Open Division appearances next month.
Guard Jarod Lucas – like Jake Kyman, one of the very best sophomores in California – led Los Altos with 34 points.