Saturday’s Damien championship match-ups set

LA VERNE, Ca. – The most impressive Platinum squads on Tuesday’s first day of action in the second The Classic at Damien will be the last ones standing on Saturday’s final day of play for the event.

St. Bernard (60-50 over Santa Margarita) and Etiwanda (66-58 against previously unbeaten St. John Bosco) punched out semifinal victories Friday night and will meet in Saturday night’s 8:30 championship game in Damien High’s Athletic Center.

Three other division title games will be contested earlier Saturday on the Damien campus:

*Jarod Lucas-led Los Altos (10-2) takes on 11-0 Eastvale Roosevelt at 5:30 p.m. in the Athletic Center.

*That game, on the same floor, precedes the 4 o’clock Silver final between Muir (7-5) and Bonita (9-4).

*And, in Damien’s Event Center, Mark Keppel (10-3) faces Troy (10-4) for the Bronze Division championship hardware at 5 p.m.

Consolation bracket title games will also be held in each division: Bronze (Damien vs. Taft at 1 p.m. in the Athletic Center); Gold (Leuzinger vs. Redondo at 12:30 in the Event Center); Silver (Blair vs. Kamahameha of Hawaii at 3:30 at near-by Bonita High); and Bronze (Rialto vs. Silverado at 3 p.m. at near-by San Dimas High).

The other 48 teams in the event also play their final games on Saturday at Damien, Bonita and San Dimas high schools, as well as Life Pacific College.

Saturday’s action at Damien begins at 9:30 a.m. (Santa Barbara’s San Marcos vs. Portland’s Central Catholic in the Gold/Event Center) and 10 o’clock (Long Beach Poly vs. Alemany in the Platinum).

For complete schedules and results, go to www.theclassicatdamien.com

Etiwanda and St. Bernard began their runs to Saturday night’s Platinum final on Tuesday in the Athletic Center in “take notice” fashion, the Eagles overwhelming L.A. City power Taft (83-51) and the Vikings stunning the host Damien Spartans (67-61).

And there wasn’t the least bit of slippage by either squad during Friday night’s semifinals.

In the first semi, the St. Bernard Vikings (9-3) trailed just once early in the second quarter, at 18-17, after two Jake Kyman free throws for the Eagles.

But freshman Tyler Powell came off the bench and gave Coach Mitch Runco’s Vikings’ offense a basketball version of a Red Bull jolt.

Powell, who hit a couple of 3s in the first quarter, followed Kyman’s free throws with a short jumper and the Vikings never again trailed.

He was perfect on four shots in the second quarter to give him 14 of the 29 points his team took into the locker room advantage at intermission while holding a three-point advantage.

There was no let up once the Vikings hit the floor for the second half, either, as they scored the first six points of the third quarter via a dunk by junior point guard Mook Harris, two free throws by senior forward Malcolm Bray and a follow shot by 6-foot-9 – and much improved – junior Romelle Mansel.

The Eagles (10-3) got to within four points of the Vikings (at 36-32) as Kyman hit one of two free throws and then drilled a 3 from the left corner on his team’s next possession with just less than four minutes to go.

But the Vikings responded – as has been the case all week – with two free throws by Mansel and a 3 from the deep right wing by Harris, set up by a Mansel pass.

The Eagles were never got closer than to within seven points (at 53-46, after a Ryan Evans 3 with 3:34 to go) in the fourth quarter.

Harris scored 15 points – all over the first three quarters – while Mansel scored 11 of his 14 points after intermission.

Santa Margarita’s tall and gifted frontcourt of senior Jordan Guest (18) and juniors Kyman (15) and Max Agbonkpolo (12) combined for all but five of the Eagles’ points

St. John Bosco’s ability to knock off Alemany and Rancho Christian in the first two rounds was due in large part to the Braves’ uncanny shooting from behind the arc, notably while hitting nine second-half 3s Wednesday and overcoming a 16-point first-half deficit to Rancho Christian.

The Braves rung up 12 more 3s Friday night, many of those while tightly contested by the Eagles’ always locked-in man-to-man defense.

But, ultimately, they mostly served to keep Coach Matt Dunn’s team reasonably within striking distance of Dave Kleckner’s Eagles.

The Eagles methodically pushed their advantage to 15 points – at 45-30 – with three minutes to go in the third quarter.

They still had a 14-point cushion, after two free throws by senior Krystian Wilson (who had a team-high 21 points), with 1:51 to go in the fourth quarter before the Braves scored 11 points in the final 1:16 to convince everyone they weren’t about to offer any figurative concession speeches.

The Pepperdine-bound Kessler Edwards continued his near-dominant performance of the week with 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Eagles.

They mostly milked the shot clock in the fourth quarter (Edwards had his team’s only field goal) maintained that reasonably comfortable advantage and got the bulk of their offense via a 10 of 12 free-throw performance.

The Gold semifinals were also played in the Athletic Center, Roosevelt holding on for its 60-59 decision against Dominguez and Los Altos following by overcoming an eight-point second-quarter deficit and pulling away down the stretch to topple Riverside Notre Dame, 69-54.

Three seniors who started on Roosevelt’s State Division I championship-winning squad, Jared Williams (15), David Agba (15) and Brennon Wade (13) combined for 43 points, with the 6-5 Williams grabbing 12 rebounds.

Williams, who scored on a buzzer-beating layup during his team’s 52-50 quarterfinal victory against Rancho Verde Wednesday, also fiercely contested a deep jump shot by the Dons’ Wayne Arnold in the closing seconds that would have proven Arnold’s third consecutive game-winning jumper in the event.

In the scramble for the rebound, the ball went out of bounds and the officials awarded possession to Dominguez and had the clock operator adjust the clock to just 1.2 seconds.

Arnold caught the inbound toss in the deep right corner but couldn’t square up in time to get another game-winner in the air.

That was about the only success Coach Steve Singleton’s team’s defense had against the Cal State Fullerton-bound guard, though, as Arnold scored 33 points while hitting 12 of 22 shots from the field (including four 3s) and five of seven free throws.

The Mustangs’ Saturday night opponent, Los Altos, closed out its semifinal victory by scoring 14 consecutive points in the four quarter – a streak finally broken with a by-then meaningless follow shot by Anthony Holland for the game’s final points with 30 seconds remaining.

Jarod Lucas and Julian Lopez scored 19 points apiece for the Conquerors (coached by Lucas’ father, Jeff Lucas), with seniors Bryant Howling and Danny Plascencia adding10 and nine, respectively.

Holland, one of eight juniors on the Notre Dame roster, led the Titans with 14 points.

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