Morningside may have been the favorite going into the Southern Section boys' 3-A final, but it took a small surprise in the shape of center Elden Campbell to insure the victory.
Campbell, a 6-8 senior, had 8 points, 12 rebounds and a most important 9 blocked shots to lead the Monarchs to a 68-52 win over Bonita and the 3-A championship in front of 5,489 fans at Long Beach Arena Saturday afternoon.
Most of Campbell's blocks came at the expense of Bonita center Greg Trygstad, who had 19 points and 11 rebounds himself but not the performance expected by both sides.
"He (Trygstad) couldn't really jump with me, so it was easy to block his shots," Campbell said. "I didn't get as much publicity as him, so it was a lot of motivation. A lot. "
True, Trygstad entered the game as one of the most heralded players in the division, averaging 20 points and 13 rebounds a game in regular-season play. But it was well known that the 6-8 1/2 senior would have to play his best game of the year to beat the balanced scoring of Morningside.
"To be honest, I thought Greg would have a better game," Bonita Coach John O'Neill said. "But they did real good defensively. There's nothing you can do with three guys around you."
Although double-teamed most of the first quarter, Trygstad really never beat Campbell inside, and seven of his points came from the free-throw line.
Neither team showed much interest in playing basketball in the first quarter. The Monarchs turned the ball over nearly as many times as they scored, while Bonita didn't seem to have anyone that wanted the ball. After a quarter of errant passing and jump balls, the teams were even at six.
In the second quarter, Morningside began to open things up. While the Bearcats still struggled with their offense, Morningside got 10 first-half points from guard Darrell Gordon and six from Levord Jenkins, who finished with 18. The Monarchs led at the half, 26-18.
The second half was just a matter of Morningside protecting its lead. Bonita closed to five on a Clark Moses jumper with 5:24 left in the final period, but were unable to control the outside shooting of Gordon and Jenkins.
Bonita, the Hacienda League champion, finished the season at 25-6. Morningside, the Pioneer League champion and second-seeded in the tournament, finished at 23-4.