The Polytechnic varsity boys’ basketball team had everything it needed to challenge visiting San Marino in a CIF Southern Section Division 4AA wild card playoff game.
The Panthers had a seven-point lead, a good rhythm on offense and momentum on its side early in the second half, but that all went away with the brief departure of one player.
The Titans took advantage of Brandon Szeto’s absence, rallied and ultimately edged a young Poly squad, 43-40, on Wednesday, Feb. 6.
“They played very well and did a good job,” said Poly head coach Brad Hall. “We were up seven and Brandon Szeto hurt his knee and had to go in the back to get some treatment. That’s when they took the lead. That was a big deal.”
Poly (18-9 overall record) had built a 26-19 advantage early in the third quarter but San Marino junior Ethan Deng hit three consecutive 3-pointers to give San Marino a 28-27 lead with 2:54 remaining.
Szeto returned to action and hit a big shot from beyond the arc in the fourth quarter to recapture the lead, 34-32. However, the Titans (15-14 overall) began attacking the basket and getting opportunities at the free throw line. San Marino’s success at the charity stripe allowed them to pull away from Poly late in the contest.
“You don’t win many games when they make 18 free throws and you make two,” Hall said. “It was a well officiated game. It’s just the way the game went. We’re so young and we beat them so handily the first game we played in December. I think that kind of affected our mindset a little bit. Bottom line is they played well.”
Szeto, who scored a team-high 17 points, hit a 3-pointer with 17 seconds remaining to cut the deficit to one point, 41-40. The sophomore forward had another opportunity to tie the game as time expired but his shot from beyond the arc was off the mark.
Dimitri Mendoza chipped in six points for Poly, and Jack Williamson and Nicholas Tu added five points each. Nicholas Richard-Craven netted four points and Kareem Ammar had two points.
Despite the loss, Hall was satisfied with his team’s performance throughout the season.
“I’m real proud of our team,” he said. “We played three sophomores and two freshmen for part of the game. We graduate only one senior, so we’re really excited for next year.”
Temple City 49
Flintridge Prep 36
The Rebels were held at bay in the final quarter of a 49-36 loss at Temple City in a CIF Southern Section Division 4AA first-round playoff game last Friday.
Trailing 34-29 after three quarters, Flintridge Prep (14-12 overall) was unable to muster a run in the fourth, allowing the Rams to pull away for a double-digit victory.
Kevin Ashworth led Prep with 11 points, and Matthew Ho and Zach Kim added seven points each. John Lytle chipped in six points, A.J. Nicassio had three points and Bennett Oakes contributed two points.
St. Francis 66
Huntington Beach Marina 62
The No. 4-seeded St. Francis boys’ basketball team defeated host Marina of Huntington Beach, 66-62, in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 3AA playoffs last Friday.
Junior Andre Henry led the Golden Knights with 29 points and Dennis Flowers III added 25 points.
St. Francis (26-7 overall) advanced to the second round and hosted Irvine Beckman on Tuesday. Should the Golden Knights win, they would move on the quarterfinals and face either Mission Viejo or Oxnard today at 7 p.m.
La Salle 57
The Lancers’ season came to an end last Friday as they fell to host Oxnard, 70-57, in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 3AA playoffs.
Head coach Mike Lynch guided La Salle to a 12-16 record this season, including a 4-4 mark in Camino Real League games.
La Verne Damien 59
The Maranatha High School varsity boys’ basketball team was given a tough draw in the Division 1 playoffs. The squad took hosted No. 4-seeded La Verne Damien and suffered a 59-43 defeat last Friday.
Head coach Tim Tucker guided Maranatha to a 13-14 record and finished second in the Olympic League standings with a 6-2 mark.