About six weeks after Serra High’s boys’ basketball team lost in the Westchester-Trevor Ariza Tip-off Classic championship game to Del Rey League rival Bishop Montgomery, 54-44, on Dec. 3, the Cavaliers were able to turn the tables and pull off a 51-47 victory over the Knights in a league showdown last Friday at Bishop Montgomery in Torrance.
Like the first game, it was a very good defensive battle, although Serra led throughout most of the game. The Cavaliers (16-2 overall and 2-0 in Del Rey play) took leads of 9-7 after the first quarter, 21-20 at halftime and 40-37 after three periods.
Serra would go on to lead by as many as seven points (50-43) on a slam dunk by 6-foot-7 senior forward Daddy Ugbede with 2:43 left in the game.
The Cavalier defense continued to force Bishop Montgomery (14-3, 1-1) into turnovers and poor shooting throughout the game.
“The kids were really effective,” Serra head coach Dwan Hurt said. “We’ve been on a run since that loss (to Bishop Montgomery on Dec. 3). We really worked hard defensively.”
Ugbede was Serra’s most dominating player with a game-high 20 points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots. Senior guard-forward Kajon Mack added 11 points and 6-foot-11 junior center Emmanuel Ndumanya chipped in 10 points.
“We’re getting better and better,” Ugbede ssaid. “I’m really happy about this win. We’ve made a lot of work for making us better.”
Bishop Montgomery was led by Lamond Murray with 11 points.
“We defended them well,” Bishop Montgomery assistant coach and athletic director Kareem Moutrie said. “We matched them well but we didn’t make our shots.”
The two teams will square off, again, on Feb. 1 at Serra.
Serra went on to play two games over the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Weekend, losing a controversial 49-47 contest to Price Christian High from the Los Angeles-Crenshaw District on Saturday at Los Angeles Center of Enriched Studies High (LACES), then topping Santa Monica, 63-55, Monday at Price.
The Cavaliers could have sent the game into overtime as Ndumanya rebounded a missed shot and appeared to put in the basket before the buzzer but the officials said it came after it sounded.
Ugbede led Serra with 15 points and 16 rebounds, while Mack contributed 10 points.
Mack proved dominant with a game-high 32 points to lead the Cavaliers over the Vikings, who are the preseason Ocean League favorites and ranked 23rd in Greater L.A. by the Los Angeles Times.
Serra’s defense clamped down on Santa Monica, holding the Vikings to just 12 first half points in taking a 27-12 lead.
Santa Monica tried to rally but the Cavaliers were able to hang on.
Bishop Montgomery had its Martin Luther King Showcase game against Valencia on Monday at Pioneer High in Whittier. The Knights defeated the Vikings, 71-53.
Murray led Bishop Montgomery with 17 points and six rebounds, while Stefan Jovanovic had 16 points, eight rebounds and three blocks.
The Cavaliers resume Del Rey action at Bishop Amat High in La Puente Wednesday and at home against Pasadena La Salle on Friday. Both league games start at 7 p.m.
Serra, then, will host its challenge classic agaisnt San Diego Hoover High Saturday at 6 p.m.
The Knights are at Cathedral Wednesday at 7 p.m.
West is hot: West Torrance continues to be the surprise team into the Bay League with wins over host Mira Costa (53-47 on Jan. 11) and visiting Palos Verdes (72-44 last Friday). A day later, the Warriors took on cross town rival Torrance at the Staples Center and recorded their second straight blowout victory, 48-26.
West’s stingy defense held the Tartars to just 11 first half points in building a 29-11 bulge. Torrance managed just 15 additional second half points.
Junior forward Jamin Lackey led the Warriors with 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Warriors (13-5, 2-0) against the Tartars, who fell to 13-11 overall and are 1-1 in the Pioneer League after a 51-47 home win over Lawndale on Friday.
West, which won 12 of its last 13 games including three of four in a nationally-ranked ESPN Torrey Pines Classic that happened the following week after Christmas, hosts Redondo, which is faced with tough luck in losing four consecutive games by a combined total of just eight points including Bay losses of 56-54 to Rolling Hills Estates Peninsula at home on Jan. 10 and 60-59 in overtime to Manhattan Beach Mira Costa Friday at home, tonight at 7:30 p.m. The Sea Hawks (8-9, 0-2) managed to end their four-game jinx with a 59-49 Coaches vs. Cancer Challenge Classic non-league win over Huntington Beach Edison Saturday at Villa Park High but are still seeking their first league win.
Redondo is mostly young, behind junior guard-forward Derek Baile, senior forward Brian Frew and sophomore guard Ian Fox.
Torrance is at El Segundo Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
Girls Basketball Showdown Night is tonight: The Bay and Del Rey Leagues will be having their league showdowns in what is expected to be between two of the top teams tonight.
At 5 p.m. will be Bishop Montgomery at Serra. The Cavaliers are off to a 2-0 league start with wins over 41-31 over La Puente Bishop Amat at Serra on Jan. 10 and 73-48 against host St. Paul High last Thursday in Santa Fe Springs.
The Cavaliers, then, traveled to Pasadena City College for the Pasadena Martin Luther King, Jr. Showcase and crushed Ontario Colony High, 64-14.
Sierra Thompson sparked Serra with 12 points in its easy win over Colony. DeAndrea Toler had 10 points, nine rebounds,nine steals and eight assists.
The Knights, meanwhile, are 1-1 in the rigorous Del Rey, regarded as one of the premiere prep girls’ basketball leagues in the United States, after 63-57 home loss to Playa del Rey St. Bernard last Thursday.
Serra will visit St. Bernard Thursday at 7 p.m.
Under second year head coach Mike Caporaso, West’s girls are off to a 2-0 Bay start with easy wins of 54-33 over host Mira Costa on Jan. 10 and 75-48 over visiting Palos Verdes last Friday.
The Lady Warriors will host defending Bay champion Redondo in what is expected to be a way closer battle than their first two games.
The Sea Hawks are mostly rebuilding after losing all five starters from last year but are still doing well with a 10-7 overall mark, that included a very tough preseason schedule, and 2-0 in Bay action after wins over Peninsula, 49-38 on Jan. 10, and Mira Costa, 53-34, in home games.
Snyder’s South Bay Top 10:
Boys Basketball: 1. Serra, 2. Bishop Montgomery, 3. Westchester, 4. St. Bernard, 5. Leuzinger, 6. West Torrance, 7. North Torrance, 8. Mira Costa, 9. Inglewood, 10. Peninsula.
Girls Basketball: 1. Serra, 2. Narbonne, 3. St. Bernard, 4. Bishop Montgomery, 5. West Torrance, 6. Culver City, 7. Redondo, 8. Peninsula, 9. Torrance, 10. Hawthorne.