When Drew Buggs went down with a knee injury last November, Long Beach Poly's season wasn't looking very promising. The Hawaii-bound guard is the Jackrabbits' court leader and sets so many examples on how to compete and how to never stop hustling.
He was able to return even though he's not 100%, but his desire sure came through loud and clear on Saturday at The Pyramid when he scored 20 points to help Poly defeat Riverside North, 61-54, in the Division II Southern California Regional final.
"For him to come back and play for what he's gone through, you have to give him all the credit in the world," Coach Shelton Diggs said. "He has the desire to help this school try to get a championship."
Poly (24-10) has won two state titles but hasn't won since 1984. The Jackrabbits avenged a loss to North in the Southern Section Division 1AA final and had to overcome a 27-point, 16-rebound performance from North's 6-foot-6 Christian Gray.
Poly grinded out the victory, stayed physical and got strong inside play from Zafir Williams, who had 16 points and 13 rebounds.
But it was Buggs constantly being in attack mode and driving to the basket that created opportunities for his teammates. He might not be able to jump very high with his right knee in a brace, but his court presence is pretty invaluable.
"He had a tremendous will to win," North Coach Mike Bartee said.
Said Buggs: "I felt I let the team down in the CIF championship game and needed to step up. I tried to be aggressive and open up opportunities for the rest of the team."
Poly will play San Mateo Serra in next Saturday's Division II final at 4 p.m. at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.
In Division V, St. Bernard advanced to the championship game with a 67-61 win over Rancho Christian. Adam Amanuel scored 28 points, making 11 of 14 shots.
Isaiah Mobley led Rancho Christian with 20 points.