Etiwanda and St. Bernard joined by Trinity teams in Platinum semifinals at Damien Friday night

LA VERNE, Ca. – Wednesday’s second day of action in the second The Classic at Damien boys’ basketball tournament proved just how as close to evenly matched as possible that the championship quarterfinals in the top two divisions were.

Need some examples?

Here we go, starting with the Platinum (top) division:

*Santa Margarita needed an overtime to knock off Pasadena (59-50).

*The outcomes for two other winners, St. Bernard (67-66) and Etiwanda (59-57), weren’t secured into the final possessions of the respective games.

*And St. John Bosco had to rally from a 12-point deficit at intermission – and hit nine 3s in the second half – to remain unbeaten with its decision against Rancho Christian (73-66).

Then, in the Gold Division, where:

*Dominguez (from Wayne Arnold) and Roosevelt (via Jared Williams) needed buckets in the closing moments to get past Rolling Hills Prep (55-54) and Rancho Verde (52-50), respectively.

*Riverside Notre Dame trailed by seven points at the half to edge Windward (and its UCLA-bound standout, Jules Bernard), 64-60.

*And, finally, Los Altos got another stellar effort from junior guard Jared Lucas (34 points), to earn a championship semifinal Friday night by pulling away from future Rice University guard Payton Moore and his Santa Monica teammates, 80-69.

In case that wasn’t enough bang for the basketball buck during the 16 Platinum and Gold games split between Damien’s two gyms (Athletic Center for the Platinum, Event Center for the Gold) on Wednesday, there were “track meets posing as basketball games” played in the consolation side of the Platinum bracket.

The most notable of those was the three-overtime affair (a total playing time of 44 minutes), with Taft finally edging Culver City, 118-116, that left players, coaches, officials and spectators equal parts dazed, exhilarated and exhausted.

Bracket play takes a break on Thursday and resumes on Friday (at Damien, as well as-nearby Bonita and San Dimas high schools and Life Pacific College).

There are 13 “crossover games” (between teams in different tournament divisions) set for Thursday at Damien.

Go to www.theclassicatdamien.com for complete Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze brackets, including results and schedules – as well as Thursday’s Crossover contests.

Here are looks at each of the 16 games played on the Damien campus Wednesday:

 

PLATINUM

CHAMPIONSHIP BRACKET
Santa Margarita 59, Pasadena 50 (OT):
The Eagles methodically built an 11-point advantage at intermission only to see Pasadena’s UNLV-bound Bryce Hamilton and fellow senior guard Darius Brown II carve it up in the second half.

Hamilton, just one of seven from the field in the first half, scored 10 third-quarter points and a 3 early in the fourth while Brown – still hobbled a bit from an ankle sprain during the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas last week – chipped in with a couple of 3s and two free throws in the fourth quarter.

The second of those 3s put the Bulldogs up a point with 45 seconds to go before junior Max Agbonkpolo’s short jumper tied the score at 46 on the Eagles’ next possession.

Hamilton, after timeouts by his coach, Tony Brooks, and Santa Margarita counterpart Jeff Reinert with 21.3 seconds to go in regulation, couldn’t get a quality look at the rim against a double-team and his 25-footer wasn’t close.

A Lazarius Morris follow shot 20 seconds into the four-minute extra period put Pasadena back in front but Agbonkpolo got free on a cut, hit a layup while being fouled and converted the free throw at the other end.

The Bulldogs then used Hamilton’s two free throws (his only points of the OT) to go back in front by a point before Jordan Guest answered with two free throws of his own for the Eagles.

Those Guest free throws were the start of a 10-0 run to close things out, with sophomore Ryan Evans following with a 3 from the right corner, junior Jake Kyman getting a steal and layup and then Kyman getting a couple of free throws and Agbonkpolo hitting a final free throw.

Santa Margarita, which faces St. Bernard Friday night at 7 in the first of the division’s championship semifinals, got 21 points (with 10 rebounds and four assists) from Kyman for the second consecutive game while Agbonkpolo added 14 (nine in the fourth quarter and OT) and Guest 12 to go with as many rebounds.

Hamilton scored a team-high 19 points but hit just five of 18 from the floor against a collective defensive effort.

St. John Bosco 73, Rancho Christian 66: Aggressiveness at both ends of the floor and the aforementioned nine second-half 3-pointers – five of those by Joshua Adoh, who finished with a team-high 21 points – enabled the Braves to overcome the 12-point deficit, improve to 11-0 and put them into a Friday night (8:30) semifinal against Etiwanda.

Junior guard Fernando Gomez added 18 and senior forward Alpha Okoli 15 for Coach Matt Dunn’s squad.

The two biggest – literally and figuratively – obstacles for the Braves to overcome were the Eagles’ Brothers Mobley.

Six-nine junior Isaiah scored 16 points and 6-10 sophomore Evan added 22. But the rest of the Rancho Christian crew had just a collective seven points after intermission.

Etiwanda 59, Oak Park 57: In a confrontation between programs with “Eagles” as nicknames, it was Etiwanda that “soared” into Friday night’s semifinals, in large part because of the play at both ends of senior guard Elijah Harkless.

The Brothers Slajchert – senior Wes and sophomore Clark – combined for 35 points, including seven 3s, while Utah-bound Riley Battin scored 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.

But Harkless (a team-best 18 points) was relentless in the fourth quarter, getting a steal and dunk, drawing a charge from Wes Slajchert with 25 seconds remaining, and then converting the go-ahead free throws with 11.5 seconds to play.

Etiwanda’s defense trapped the first pass near the sideline and Oak Park didn’t even get up a shot attempt before the buzzer sounded.

  St. Bernard 67, Vista 66: The team led by as many as 10 points at intermission and as late as at 66-65 after an Isaiah Morris jump shot with 1:29 to play.

But the Vikings (who stunned Damien Tuesday night) went ahead to stay with what proved to be the final points of the contest via a drive with 1:13 to go by senior Malcolm Bray.

The Panthers had three more opportunities to win.

Morris missed a jump shot but they got the ball back after rebounding Mook Harris’ missed jump shot with 16 seconds to go in regulation and the shot clock about to expire.

After Vista’s final timeout with 10 seconds remaining, Morris drove and appeared to be fouled while missing the shot but the ball went out of bounds to the Panthers with 3.9 tics on the clock.

Senior guard Taurus Samuels was forced to catch the inbound pass deep in the right corner and his turn-around jumper didn’t hit rim as the buzzer sounded and the Vikings celebrated.

Morris and Samuels had 17 points apiece while the Vikings had four fellows who scored from eight to 14 points, led by sophomore Nick Bowden Jr.

 

CONSOLATION

  Centennial 98, Birmingham 87: In a game in which transition “defense” was often at a minimum, the Huskies improved to 7-5 as sophomores D.J. Davis (29), Jaylen Clark (27) and Paris Dawson (13) combined for 69 points while junior Allan McBride added 16.

Devonaire Doutrive (an all-L.A. City selection as a junior when the Patriots won the City Open title) scored 30 points for Birmingham while hitting 11 of 20 shots from the floor (including five 3s) while junior teammate Tyjae Medley added 28 – all of those coming over the final three quarters.

Damien 74, L.B. Poly 64: Senior guard Cameron Shelton, a November signee with Northern Arizona University, scored 31 points for the second consecutive game as the Spartans bounced back from their first-round loss to St. Bernard late Tuesday night.

Senior guard Jesse Galloway led the Jackrabbits with a career-best 24 points.

The Spartans and Centennial will meet in a 10 o’clock consolation semifinal Friday.

They meet twice on the same floor last season with Damien prevailing in a first-round game of the CIF Southern Section Open Division playoffs and the Huskies returning the favor in the semifinals of the State Southern Open D-I playoffs.

Cajon 79, Alemany 76: The Warriors had a second consecutive late rally from a double-figure deficit but couldn’t get things into overtime via end-of-regulation jump shots.

Junior guard Jarred Hyder led the Cowboys with 22 points while UC Riverside-bound guard D.J. McDonald jump shot (six 3s) his way to 34.

Taft 118, Culver City 116 (3OT): The Centaurs combined a combined 82 points – 82! – from senior Tavian Jones (47, 37 of those in the fourth quarter and OTs) and freshman T.J. Wainwright (35, including 10 3s).

They led by five points late in the regulation but never got multiple consecutive defensive stops as the Toreadors continually raced their Culver City’s extended defense for layups or wide-open jump shots.

University of Virginia-bound point guard Kihei Clark ultimately put a stop to the scoring – and the game – with his layup with 2.1 seconds to go against a set defense after a timeout.

Clark and junior forward Brandon Wilson scored 26 points apiece for Taft while junior guard Makani Whiteside added 21.

 

GOLD

CHAMPIONSHIP

  Roosevelt 52, Rancho Verde 50: Jared Williams received an inbound pass from Kevin Dobson at point-blank range under the rim and converted a few seconds before the buzzer to push Roosevelt into a Friday evening (4) semifinal with Dominguez.

Williams scored 13 points for the Mustangs (9-0) while fellow senior Brennon Wade led the squad with 17. Senior forward Jaishon Forte scored 18 for Rancho Verde.

  Dominguez 55, Rolling Hills Prep 54: Cal State Fullerton-bound Wayne Arnold hit a deep 3 from the right corner to put his team ahead to stay Tuesday in a first-round game with Leuzinger.

A jump shot from just about the same spot – and even less time remaining – did the trick again Wednesday as the Dons edged the defending Division V state champion to get to a Friday night semifinal.

Arnold scored 12 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter while Gahr transfer Gary Williams added 12 and senior guard Alex Garcia led all scorers with 19 points for Rolling Hills Prep.

  Riverside Notre Dame 64, Windward 60: Balance determined this outcome as juniors Anton Mozga scored 16 points and led a strong third-quarter charge as the Titans earned a spot in Friday night’s semifinals.

Jules Bernard had foul issues most of the game and was “limited” to 19 points for Windward.

  Los Alto 80, Santa Monica 69: Jarod Lucas continues to have a marvelous junior season but Los Altos continues to get outstanding play from a lot of other guys, notably seniors Julian Lopez and Bryant Howling.

 

 

CONSOLATION

  Camarillo 64, Portland Central Catholic 54: Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored 30 points and did an admirable job of getting his teammates involved with his playmaking skills as the Scorpions moved into a Friday morning (9:30) consolation semifinal against Leuzinger.

Senior guard Isaac Amaral-Artharee led the Rams with 20 points.

  Leuzinger 66, Maranatha 48: The Olympians, a four-point loser to Dominguez on Tuesday morning, rallied nine points down at intermission, seized control via a 47-point second half.

Sophomore Amound Anderson (who scored 31 points in the loss to the Dons Tuesday) led Coach Arturo Jones’ team with 21 points while junior point guard John Clausell scored all 11 of his points in the fourth quarter – nine of those on 3s.

The Camarillo-Leuzinger game will feature two of California’s best underclass “scorers” in the 6-6 Jaquez (a junior) and the 6-2, left-handed Anderson.

Redondo Union 78, Santa Barbara San Marcos 73: Seniors Zekiah LoVett (24) and Quinn Collins (23) combined for 47 points as the Sea Hawks moved into an 11 o’clock semifinal Friday morning.

Senior center Jackson Stormo had 24 for San Marcos.

Seattle Prep 50, Foothill 49: Center Nic Lynch scored 16 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter to help the squad from the Pacific Northwest hold off a program based in Orange County.

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