HoopHall West: Sierra Canyon falls in nail biter

High School
Southern California

Posted On: 12/10/17 1:35 AM

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Twelve games, over about 19 hours, were played during the two-day HoopHall West on Friday and Saturday at Chaparral High.

And which contest turned out to be a couple notch of all the others, in terms of competitiveness and gut-twisting plays at both ends of the floor?

Yep – Game No. 12, which didn’t wrap up until about 10:30 Saturday evening.

And Phoenix Shadow Mountain, top-ranked in Arizona and No. 9 nationally (in the Ballislife Top 50), needed each one of those plays from speedy (and then some) junior point guard Jovan Blacksher to edge Chatsworth Sierra Canyon – one of California’s best squads – in overtime, 80-78.

The Trailblazers (who edged Camarillo on Nov. 30 in their only other game this season) trailed by as many as 13 points in the second half before sending things into overtime when reserve junior L Simpson (a transfer from Harvard-Westlake), at the buzzer, followed in a Duane Washington (pictured above) miss on a jump shot.

They then scored the first five points of the OT to go up, 75-70.

But continually launched some ill-advised, quick shots (there is no shot clock in Arizona) and Coach Mike Bibby’s Matadors took full advantage in front of heavily partisan gathering.

With his team trailing by a point after Washington hit one of two free throws, Blacksher went to work.

He feinted a couple of penetrating drives before backing off on the dribble. He then drove again and when a Sierra Canyon defender helped off Antonio Reeves to collapse on Blacksher, the point guard passed to Reeves on the right wing and he buried a 3-pointer with about six seconds to go.

After a timeout, a Washington jumper over Blacksher that would have tied the scored rimmed out and sophomore Shemar Morrow snagged the rebound and held the ball as the clock expired.

Blacksher had 23 points, 10 assists and six steals while Reeves added 13 points (11 after intermission).

Ohio State-bound Washington and junior forward K.J. Martin scored 18 points apiece for Sierra Canyon, which seems on a collision course with another of Southern California’s best teams (La Verne Damien) during in the title game of the Dec. 16 La Canada Tournament.

Here’s a look at how the other three Southern California-based programs fared at the event:

  Chino Hills: The Huskies got an overpowering performance from junior Onyeka Okongwu (33 points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots) Friday night but couldn’t pull off the upset of Shadow Mountain, 85-81.

Coach Dennis Latimore’s team has dropped three in a row. But each of those losses were to strong teams, including the defeats to Rancho Christian and Corona Centennial during the Battle Zone Classic in Corona last week.

There will be more tough comp for the Huskies during the Dec. 20-23 Tarkanian Classic with a bracket field that also includes Rancho Christian, Centennial and Pasadena.

But with Okongwu and forward Andre Ball, as well as the gifted backcourt of Ofure Ujadughele and Phaquon Davis, the Huskies remain a strong candidate to return to the CIF Southern Section Open Division playoffs – even with the field shrunk from 16 to eight teams.

Crossroads: The Roadrunners split a pair of games, knocking off the host team Friday night, before stumbling to a much-better Arizona squad Saturday afternoon, Mesa Red Mountain, 74-66.

Crossroads’ Shareef O’Neal – who signed a scholarship agreement with the University of Arizona last month – was well short of overwhelming in each clash.

He scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds Friday night.

He went for 22 points (hitting six of 18 from the field and nine of 12 free throws) Saturday but was limited to four rebounds and committed five turnovers.

Most of Saturday’s contest was dominated by Utah-bound Tim Allen, who scored 40 points (hitting 14 of 16, including his final 13, from the field) and grabbed nine rebounds. Fourteen of his points came in the fourth quarter while playing with four fouls.

Rolling Hills Prep: The Huskies of Coach Harvey Kitani improved to 5-1 in somewhat-sluggish fashion Saturday morning, 53-50 over Phoenix St. Mary’s.

They led by 14 points in the first half, as senior Alex Garcia and junior Chris Koon (three 3s) combined for 16 points.

But Rolling Hills turnovers and six 3s after intermission keep the winless Knights close until the buzzer.

Garcia scored 17 of his game-high 24 points in the second half.