Classic effort leads St. Bernard to Tuesday stunner

LA VERNE, Ca. – A year ago, the Playa del Rey St. Bernard boys’ basketball team won just one of the five games it played in the first The Classic at Damien.

Late Tuesday night, in the final game of the first day of the second year of the event, Coach Mitch Runco’s squad demonstrated that it has stepped up in class, both figuratively and literally, in 12 months.

Runco’s Vikings – having moved from the Silver to the (top) Platinum Division – pulled off the biggest stunner in the event’s brief history, upsetting the host Spartans, 67-61.

It capped the eight Platinum games played in Damien’s Athletic Center, while just a short walk away on campus in the Event Center, eight games were played in the Gold Division (which is now part of the expanded four-division field in the makeup of the event).

Eight Silver Division games were split between near-by Bonita High and Life Pacific College, and eight Bronze contests at Bonita and San Dimas High.

Action resumes Wednesday at the respective sites. For full schedules and updated brackets/results, go to www.thelassicatdamien.com

St. Bernard, 10-17 a year ago, took a 6-3 record (that included losses to Westchester, Harvard-Westlake and St. Paul) into Tuesday night’s game against the 9-1 Spartans (whose only loss was to Sierra Canyon in the Dec. 16 La Canada Tournament final).

But the Vikings, with three juniors and a sophomore in their starting lineup, had the Spartans on their heels early, going up 25-11 before Damien got to within eight points going into the second quarter.

Senior Cameron Shelton’s 15 points (he finished with a game-high 31) put the Spartans to within 34-31 at intermission after a first half in which they committed 11 turnovers and hit just one 3.

But, behind point guard Mook Harris (who finished with 18 points, five assists and four steals) and center Romelle Mansel (16 points and 10 rebounds), the Vikings padded their advantage back to 10 points going into the fourth quarter as the Spartans’ jump-shooting and turnover woes continued.

The Spartans got to within four points three times in the final minute but the Vikings got five points from freshman Tyler Powell down the stretch and hit just enough free throws to close it out and advance to a Wednesday night (8:30) quarterfinal with Vista.

Each of the last four Platinum contests proved to be down-to-the-wire decisions with three winning margins of three points and the six points by St. Bernard setting the table for what should be superb quarterfinals.

Highlights of the other Platinum and Gold games played at Damien Tuesday:

 

PLATINUM

  Rancho Christian 67, Cajon 56: The Cowboys, bolstered by the addition of football standouts Jeremiah Martin and Darren Jones, led by four points at intermission.

But junior post Isaiah Mobley – who hit a 3 at the first-half buzzer – was too skilled and dominant for Cajon, finishing with 23 points and 18 rebounds, and freshman Luke Turner dropped in three 3s in the second half for Coach Ray Barefield’s Eagles (10-1), the Platinum consolation champions during last week’s Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas.

They’ll face unbeaten St. John Bosco at 5:30 Wednesday evening. Cajon (which got 21 pints from junior guard Jarred Hyder) takes on Alemany in a consolation quarter at 1 p.m.

 

  Oak Park 68, Culver City 49: The Eagles, behind the jump shooting of brothers Wes and Clark Slajchert and senior Josh Jeong, went on an 18-0 run over the first and second quarters to take a 26-point advantage at intermission and the Centaurs were never closer than with 16 points the rest of the way.

Utah-bound Riley Battin was the dominant force in and around the lane through while scoring 22 points and grabbing 15 rebounds for Oak Park (8-3, with a 7 o’clock quarterfinal with Etiwanda on tape Wednesday) while Dartmouth-bound senior Wes Slajchert scored 14 points and his sophomore sibling Clark added 20 including four 3s.

Seniors Tavian Jones and Cyrus Johnson led Culver City (the Select Division champion at the Tarkanian Classic) with 16 and 12 points, respectively, with all but four of those coming after intermission.

  Santa Margarita 76, Birmingham 66: The Eagles trailed by 10 points after the first quarter but, ultimately, the size and skill of their front-court players and a career-best effort by sophomore guard Ryan Evans pushed them into the championship side of the bracket with a 4 p.m. game against Pasadena.

The 6-foot-2 Evans scored 22 points (including four 3s) including a perfect effort on six fourth-quarter free throws after the Patriots tied the score with a little less than four minutes to go.

Boston University signee Jordan Guest (15 points) answered with a layup on the ensuing possession for the Eagles who then pulled away down the stretch.

Six-seven junior Jake Kyman had 21 points (nine of 10 from the field, including three 3s), 10 rebounds five assists for Santa Margarita (9-2) in one of the best overall performances of the day at the event while 6-8 classmate Max Agbonkpolo added 16 points – all over the first three quarters.

Southern California’s best unsigned senior, 6-5 Devonaire Doutrive, never got into a jump-shooting rhythm (six of 19 from the field overall) for Birmingham but did grab 11 rebounds to go with seven assists – three of the spectacular variety – with his team-high 20 points.

Etiwanda 83, Taft 51: Pepperdine-bound Kessler Edwards scored 15 of his game-high 26 points in the first quarter and the Eagles (10-1) cruised by one of the best programs in the L.A. City Section and into a quarterfinal with Oak Park Wednesday.

Coach Dave Kleckner’s team also got double-figure scoring from seniors Krystian Wilson (19 points), Elijah Harkless (13) and Xavier Scott (11) while University of Virginia-bound point guard Kihei Clark led the Toreadors with 18 points and junior Makani Whiteside added 13.

Vista 73, LB Poly 70: San Diego County’s best point guard, Taurus Samuels, scored 29 points and Cal State Dominguez signee Isaiah Morris added 16 to prevail in a game pitting teams with no starter taller than 6-3.

The Panthers, who take on St. Bernard in the last of the quarterfinal Wednesday night, also got seven key points from junior Jordan Hilstock in the fourth quarter to hold on against the Jackrabbits, who were led by junior Justin Rene’s 18 points – all of which came in the first half.

Vista was the event’s Silver Division champion a year ago, with Samuels selected the division’s Most Outstanding Player.

  St. John Bosco 71, Alemany 68: Junior guard Fernando Gomez scored 16 of his team-high 19 points in the second half – 10 of the those in the fourth quarter, including four free throws in the final 30 seconds – for the Braves (10-0) and D.J. McDonald (20 points) was just slightly wide right on a 40-footer that would have sent the game into overtime for the Warriors.

Senior forward Alpha Okoli added 18 points for St. John Bosco which also got a couple of key 3s off the bench in the second half from sophomore guard Josh Camper.

Pasadena 73, Centennial 70 (OT): Future UNLV guard Bryce Hamilton scored 15 of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter and overtime to help the Bulldogs overcome a couple of double-digit deficits and move to a championship quarterfinal against Santa Margarita Wednesday.

The left hander earned his team – and the spectators in was the most exciting game of the day – four extra minutes via his 3-point from the right wing with nine seconds to go in regulation.

A four-point possession (sophomore Jaylen Clark hit a 3 while being fouled, then hit the free throws) put the Huskies up 67-66 with 1:40 to go in OT but Hamilton put his team back up to stay on the ensuing possession via a short jumper after a pass from Darius Brown II.

An approximate 38-footer by Centennial sophomore D.J. Davis that would have provided another OT was well short at the buzzer.

Senior forward Tavian Percy added 25 points for the Bulldogs while Clark led the Huskies with 23.

 

GOLD

  Dominguez 79, Leuzinger 75: Cal State Fullerton-bound Wayne Arnold’s 3 from the right corner with 28 seconds remaining put the Dons ahead to stay and then classmate Brent Woods Jr.’s steal and layup on the Olympians’ potentially tying final possession secured the victory in the event’s first game to tip Tuesday morning.

Arnold scored 29 points while Leuzinger’s sensational sophomore, Amound Anderson, scored 31.

Santa Monica 68, Foothill 50: Peyton Moore, a Rice-bound point guard, led a balanced attack for the Vikings with 13 points to help his team move into a second-round tilt with Los Altos Wednesday night (8 o’clock)

Rolling Hills Prep 56, Maranatha 49: Senior Alex Garcia scored 23 points and Coach Harvey Kitani’s club (the state D-V champion last spring) will face Dominguez in a compelling 5 o’clock quarterfinal Wednesday.

Rancho Verde 72, Camarillo 53: The Mustangs, stunned in the first-round by Dominguez a year ago here on a buzzer-beating 3 by then-freshman Amound Anderson, jumped Camarillo from Jump Street to move into a second-round game with Roosevelt Wednesday (3:30).

Senior forward Jaishon Forte led Rancho Verde with 29 points while guard Jaxen Turner (one of the top football prospects in the junior class in Southern California) added 11.

Junior forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. led Camarillo with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

  Riverside Notre Dame 84, Santa Barbara San Marcos 64: Juniors Pierce Sterling (18), Anthony Holland (20) and Dondre Bausley (19) combined for 57 of the Titans points to set the stage for a 5:30 Wednesday quarterfinal with Windward.

  Windward 60, Redondo 47: UCLA-bound Jules Bernard (all-tournament here a year ago) powered his way to 30 points and 20 rebounds for the Wildcats.

  Eastvale Roosevelt 58, Central Catholic 48: The Mustangs improved to 8-0 as senior forward Jared Williams (a starter for the team that won the State D-I title last March in Sacramento) scored 28 points against the squad from Portland.

  Los Altos 80, Seattle Prep 66: Junior Jarod Lucas – another all-tourney choice here a year ago – scored 32 points as the Conquerors punched their second-round, championship-side-of-the-bracket ticket.

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