Tarkanian Classic: Second-half fizzles for SoCal teams

High School
Southern California

Posted On: 12/22/17 10:38 AM

LAS VEGAS – Second-half stumbles proved the undoing of the three Southern California-based squads in the championship quarterfinals of the Platinum Division of the Tarkanian Classic at event host Bishop Gorman High Thursday.

Chino Hills (nine points over Putnam City North of Oklahoma), L.A. Westchester (a point over Las Vegas Clark) and Corona Centennial (10 points over the host Gaels) all were in front at intermission only to be knocked into Friday’s fifth-place semifinals.

Poor shot selection and turnovers, and Putnam City North’s defense against 6-foot-9 junior Onyeka Okongwu, plagued the Huskies (4-4) through most of the final 16 minutes – especially down the stretch of what proved to be a 54-49.

The Huskies scored only 14 points in the second half – with Okongwu held to two field-goal attempts and going scoreless with four turnovers.

Okongwu had dominated most of the first half, scoring nine points and grabbing five rebounds, before picking up his third personal foul on an over-the-back call with 2:17 to go.

Westchester (7-2) scored only two points over the first 10 minutes of the second half (note: high school games are played with 16-minute halves, not eight-minute quarters, in Nevada) while falling, 44-36.

Standout junior guard Jordan Brinson scored 10 points in the first half for the Comets but was blanked after intermission while another terrific junior, Jalen Hill, was scoring 10 points for Clark (9-0) and seemingly making every key defensive play as well.

Centennial (5-3) led by 12 points early in the second half but then were overwhelmed the rest of the way by the scoring of Washington-bound Jamal Bey (37 points, 20 of those in the second half) and sophomore guard Noah Taitz (19), and the superb all-around effort by freshman point guard Zaon Collins (13) as the Gaels prevailed, 83-69.

Sophomore guards Jaylen Clark (pictured) and D.J. Davis scored 22 points for the Huskies but couldn’t do anything on the other end to help quell their opponents in the second half.

The other two SoCal teams in the division, Pasadena and Rancho Christian, bounced back from narrow opening-round defeats to knock off Houston Woodbury Christian (65-53) and Chicago Morgan Park (50-44), respectively, in consolation quarterfinals.

Wins by Pasadena (over Denver Washington) and Rancho Christian (against Aurora Overland) could set up an all-Southern California consolation final at 8 o’clock Saturday morning.

And Thursday’s results did set up a SoCal confrontation on Friday afternoon, as Westchester and Chino Hills will duel in a fifth-place semi at 1:50