Every time Los Angeles Cathedral tried to make a run at top-seeded Torrance Bishop Montgomery on Wednesday night in a Southern Section Open Division quarterfinal playoff game, Stephen Thompson Jr. became an impenetrable road block.
It wasn't even Thompson's best game. He missed 10 shots. He missed four free throws.
"But he's such a good player, he's going to make big plays," Coach Doug Mitchell said.
The Oregon State-bound senior finished with 20 points and made big passes and big shots that frustrated the Phantoms during Bishop Montgomery's 59-47 victory.
"At this point it's all about winning, and I tried to do whatever it takes to win," Thompson said.
Said Cathedral Coach William Middlebrooks: "He's big time."
Bishop Montgomery (28-1) led by seven points at halftime. Cathedral (20-7) slowed the game in the first half trying to limit the Knights' possessions but switched strategies in the third quarter. Kobe Paras scored eight of his 14 points in the third.
But Thompson always seemed to deliver when the Phantoms got close. He scored his team's first three baskets of the third quarter and made a three at the outset of the fourth quarter when Cathedral had closed to 42-38.
Mitchell, in his 26th season, is enjoying coaching a team that loves to be unselfish. Besides Thompson, Jordan Schakel had 11 points and freshman David Singleton contributed two threes.
It was the third win this season for Bishop Montgomery over ninth-seeded Cathedral, but now the Phantoms probably will go back to Division 3 for the state playoffs and won't have to face the Knights again.
"It's always tough to beat a team three times," Mitchell said. "It's a good sign when you don't play well and find a way to win."
Bishop Montgomery will face Orange Lutheran in Saturday's semifinals. The Lancers defeated Corona Centennial, 78-73.
In other quarterfinal games, La'Vette Parker scored 23 points, Rex Pflueger 22 and M.J. Cage 18 in Santa Ana Mater Dei's 73-62 win over Chino Hills. Mater Dei will play Etiwanda, a 65-60 winner over Chatsworth Sierra Canyon. Kameron Edwards scored 23 points for Etiwanda.