Frank, Kyman pace Take Flight Challenge wins

NORWALK, Ca. – The Santa Margarita and Sierra Canyon high school basketball teams bounced back Saturday night from losses to collect what could prove to have been significant victories once the CIF Southern Section’s Open Division playoff field is announced on Feb. 9.

On the second and final day of the fifth Take Flight Challenge, held at Cerritos College, Santa Margarita – behind junior Jake Kyman’s career-high 31 points – toppled Shareef O’Neal-led Crossroads, 72-61.

And, in the last of the eight games played Saturday in front of an estimated crowd of 1,200, Sierra Canyon finally pulled away from Mayfair, 84-79, as sophomore forward Terren Frank (PICTURED) chipped in with his own career-best of 33 points.

Each of the two games pitted “strong” (Santa Margarita and Sierra Canyon) and “relatively strong” (Crossroads and Mayfair) candidates for the Southern Section’s now-eight team (it was 16 in the first four years) Open Division bracket.

The Santa Margarita Eagles (12-4) led host Mater Dei by five points with about six minutes to go in their Trinity League opener Thursday night before losing, 68-55, after being outscored 23-5 the rest of the way.

Saturday night the Eagles took the lead late in the first quarter and never trailed again, although the Roadrunners (7-6) did close to within three points with just less than seven minutes to go after O’Neal slammed a lob pass.

Another gifted junior, Max Agbonkpolo, added 18 points for Santa Margarita while Boston University-bound post Jordan Guest had 13 points and 11 rebounds.

O’Neal, the son of the Hall of Fame center and now-NBA television commentator, was saddled with foul problems in the first half (he picked up his second two and a half minutes into the game and his third just less than four minutes before intermission).

Despite his impressive physical dimensions and athletic skill, the 6-foot-10 O’Neal (who signed a scholarship agreement with the University of Arizona in November) was largely ineffectual while grabbing a single rebound – on the defensive end with a minute to go in the third quarter – and scoring 14 points and not blocking a shot while committing four turnovers.

Senior guard D.J. Houston scored 18 of his team-high 25 points in the second half for the Roadrunners.

Sierra Canyon (11-2) frittered a seven-point lead in the late going Friday night at Cerritos and lost to an undermanned (minus three injured starters) but unbeaten Bishop Montgomery squad, 65-62.

And the Trailblazers trailed by as many as five points, even early into the fourth quarter, Saturday night before finally putting away the Monsoons (12-5) in an oft-times ragged affair.

Frank, the transfer from Harvard-Westlake and son of one-time NBA player Tellis Frank, was the significant difference in the outcome as the Monsoons had no defensive response to his ability to score from inside or from the perimeter (where he nailed three 3s) while hitting 12 of 17 shots from the floor and all six of his free throws.

Frank and senior Duane Washington (a transfer from Grand Rapids in Michigan who signed with Ohio State) hit four free throws apiece as Sierra Canyon was perfect on 12 attempts in the four quarter when reserve L Simpson scored his team’s only two field goals.

The Brothers Christopher, sophomore Josh (26) and senior Caleb (17) combined for 43 points for the Monsoons.

Josh Christopher, one of the most heavily recruited members of the national Class of 2020, never got into any kind of jump shooting rhythm (he was six of 17 from the field and didn’t hit a 3) but proved difficult to keep away from the free-throw line, where he cashed in on his final 14 attempts after missing his first two.

 

In the other six games played in the event on Saturday:

Culver City 79, Loyola 68: The Centaurs (the “hosts” of the event) built a 17-point advantage at intermission only see the Cubs climb to within six points with 2:30 remaining.

  But, after a timeout, freshman T.J. Wainwright hit a 3 from the right corner, then got a steal at the other end that he turned into an assist on a Tevian Jones bucket for enough cushion to improve their record to 7-7.

  Jones (31 and 11) and Cyrus Johnson (19 and 15) combined for 50 points and 26 rebounds.

  Junior James Keefe (whose father, Adam Keefe, was an All-American at Stanford and played in the NBA), led the Cubs (8-5) with 17 points and eight rebounds.

  Los Altos 69, Maranatha 53: Junior guard Jarod Lucas missed his four shots but sizzled the rest as the way as the Conquerors improved to 13-2 after trailing by as many as 10 points in the first quarter.

Lucas, the Most Outstanding Player after leading his team to the championship of the Gold Division of the Classic at Damien on Dec. 23, hit nine of his final 11 shots from the floor (including six 3s) and didn’t miss a shot in the second half while finishing with 32 points, five assists and five rebounds.

Teammate Julian Lopez added 18 points while Fordham-bound Chris Austin scored 24 for Maranatha.

Vista 62, Santa Monica 45: Dartmouth-bound point guard Taurus Samuels scored 15 points and juniors Makiah Morris and Jordan Hilstock added 14 and 11, respectively, as the Panthers improved to 12-5.

A strong contender for a San Diego Section Open high playoff seed, Anthony Bolton-coached Vista knocked in five 3s in the first quarter to burst to an 11-point edge and finished with 12 for the game.

Dominguez 60, Beverly Hills 57: Gahr transfer Gary Williams scored 20 points and senior guard Brent Woods Jr. added 19 as the Dons improved to 9-5 despite playing without their best player, Wayne Arnold (in Utah visiting family).

Senior point guard Daniel Zahabian led all scorers with 26 points for the Normans (11-5).

Serra 68, Campbell Hall 65 (OT): Six-six junior Doctor Bradley scored 27 points and senior Kobe Smith 18 as the Cavaliers moved to 12-4 with one of their most impressive victories of the season.

The Vikings (12-4), who won the Gatorade Division of the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas the week before Christmas, was led by 6-8, Oberlin College-bound Chris Riordan, who scored 18 of his 24 points in the second half.

   View Park 59, Heritage Christian 56: Senior guard Shamar Lair scored 23 points while freshman Christian Johnson and sophomore De’Shawn Johnson (no relation) added 14 and 11, respectively, as the Knights improved to 10-4.

Sophomore Dillon Depina (19) and juniors Noah Fernando (18) and Kalil Washington (13) combined for 50 of the points for the Warriors (8-8).

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