It's not every day that two 6-foot-11 giants line up to face off in a high school basketball game. Arizona-bound Chance Comanche of Beverly Hills and promising junior Jayce Johnson of Santa Monica would have been the main story Tuesday night if not for a disturbance in a parking lot last month in the last game between the two schools.
That resulted in a major security upgrade, with eight Beverly Hills police officers, two from Santa Monica, eight security personnel from Santa Monica and more from Beverly Hills showing up at the Beverly Hills gym, along with several television camera crews, to see whether students and fans would behave before, during and after the Ocean League game.
"People left their Mercedes home and took their Lexus," one parent joked.
FOR THE RECORD
Feb. 11, 8:46 a.m.: An earlier version of this article and its headline incorrectly listed the score as a 64-50 win for Beverly Hills. It was a 56-40 victory for Beverly Hills.
Video from the January game showing students shouting expletives and damage inflicted on a car caused administrators at both schools to take extra precautions to prevent a repeat. Walkie talkies were plentiful Tuesday night.
Players and coaches taking part did their best to ignore the off-the-court drama.
Fans from both teams started chanting loudly during pregame warmups. Jubilant Beverly Hills students packed an entire side of bleachers in its historic gym known for its pool that is revealed when the gym floor retracts.
By the game's conclusion, Beverly Hills was celebrating a 56-40 victory to clinch the Ocean League championship.
The big men did a good job canceling each other out. Comanche had seven points, seven rebounds and five blocks. Johnson had 11 rebounds and didn't score. Beverly Hills got major contributions from Denzel Holt, who had 13 points, and Trevor Bergher, who had 11 points. Ryan Manoocheri, who had 12 threes in one game this season, made four threes and finished with 14 points. The Normans made nine three-pointers on the night.
"Guys came to play," Beverly Hills Coach Jarvis Turner said. "Guys wanted to win and they played like it. There were no distractions. We have a mature group."
Beverly Hills (20-5, 9-0) is looking like the favorite in Southern Section Division 3A, especially if the division's top three teams — Cathedral, Alemany and Cantwell-Sacred Heart — are chosen for the Open Division playoffs.
New Williams scored 13 points and Jonah Mathews 12 for Santa Monica (11-14, 6-3).
Afterward, the large crowd exited orderly and friendly. There were no early reports of problems from officials. TV crews were out front capturing the scene.
Administrators may be able to breathe a sigh of relief and get back to worrying about classes and budgets and measles outbreaks.