Scottie Pippen won six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls. As he sat courtside at Long Beach State on Saturday night — smiling and watching his son, Scotty, rise up to lead Chatsworth Sierra Canyon to a 58-55 victory over Etiwanda in the Southern California Open Division Regional final — you could sense he was more than just a proud father.
Everything the younger Pippen was doing used to be done by his father in the same pressure situations. Sensing his team needed an offensive boost after an injury to Cassius Stanley, Pippen delivered 13 points in the third quarter to ignite the Trailblazers. And he continued to come through in a nerve-racking fourth quarter, with the game never decided until a final three-point attempt by Etiwanda as the buzzer sounded failed to go in. He finished with 22 points, 20 coming in the second half. He made nine of 11 free throws.
"Pippen is so creative," Etiwanda coach Dave Kleckner said of the junior guard. "He really took over in the second half."
Grinding, attacking, stumbling and getting back up. If it sounds like a boxing match instead of a basketball game, that's what the game resembled. There was much at stake: a first-ever trip for either team to the state Open Division championship game next weekend at Sacramento.
The first half saw Sierra Canyon lose Stanley on a scary fall with 4:20 left in the second quarter.
Stanley drove down the middle, went airborne and made a layup, but crashed to the court while being undercut by an Etiwanda defender who was trying to take a charge. Stanley was helped off the court and never returned.
The game got chippy and testy between several players. The intensity was high, particularly on defense. Every shot and every rebound was contested. Etiwanda held a 24-20 halftime lead.
Kessler Edwards and Elijah Harkless had 11 points in the first half. Edwards, a Pepperdine signee, was impressing his future coach, Lorenzo Romar, who was sitting courtside.
"He's very versatile," Romar said. "He's poised."
Edwards led Etiwanda with 25 points and 12 rebounds.