Royal Defense Drains Power of the Pyramid

The defensive sliding drills conducted by the Royal High basketball team in pregame warmups look something like an Egyptian dance.

But that was appropriate Wednesday night when the Highlanders went up against Westlake's pyramid in the paint--6-6 Bill Fassl, 6-7 Kevin Logan and 6-8 Kurt Schwan.

Royal ran around and shot over the taller Warriors to record a 59-58 Marmonte League victory at Westlake.

Royal (8-5, 1-1 in league play) accomplished the win despite going the final 4 1/2 minutes without a point; despite being outrebounded, 48-23; despite trailing, 20-10, after one period; and despite playing without starting guard Chris Noyes, the team's third-leading scorer who was sidelined because of a sprained ankle.

"I don't believe in premonitions, but I had a dream last night that we were down by eight points at halftime and were almost being blown out but came back and won it," Royal Coach Joe Malkinson said.

Close, coach. Royal was down by six, 37-31, at halftime, but it could have been a lot worse the way Westlake was dominating inside.

Logan--who had game highs in points (22) and rebounds (16)--Schwan and Fassl combined for 31 points and 16 rebounds by halftime, outscoring Royal's starting front line by 24 points. Westlake also held a 20-10 rebound advantage at intermission.

"We had good control of things in that first quarter, but we didn't adjust well in the third quarter," Westlake Coach Greg Hess said.

Royal switched to a 3-2 zone in the second half and packed the middle, forcing Westlake (7-7, 0-2) into 12 second-half turnovers and taking away the Warriors' inside game.

"We're smaller than anybody, but we've got heart and we got the rebounding position in the second half," Malkinson said. "If you get inside position, there is no height advantage."

Royal outscored Westlake, 22-12, in the third period to take a 53-49 lead into the wild fourth quarter. A three-pointer by guard J. P. Ouellette increased Royal's lead to 59-52 with 4:30 to play, and the Highlander offense took the rest of the night off.

The defense, however, remained, holding Westlake to six points the rest of the way.

A three-pointer by Logan cut the lead to 59-55, but Logan fouled out with 2:44 to play. Guard Nathan Heyman made a three-pointer with a little more than a minute left to make it 59-58.

Schwan blocked a shot at the other end but, after a timeout, Fassl's shot was short and Royal rebounded. Heyman intercepted a pass and Westlake got another chance, but Fassl was called for an offensive foul, his fifth personal, with 24 seconds to play.

With 16 seconds left, Ouellette missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Russell Myers rebounded for Royal. Westlake's Mike Waggoner stole the ball and was fouled, but missed the front end of a one-and-one with seven seconds left.

Schwan, who finished with 14 points and 9 rebounds, forced a jump ball on the rebound, but the possession arrow pointed to Royal. It wasn't over yet, however.

Waggoner stole the inbounds pass and fed John Hopkins, whose 18-footer was off line at the buzzer.

John Loder came off the bench to lead Royal with 16 points. Ouellette scored 15 points and Chris Myers added 11.

Fassl scored 11 points for Westlake, which meets powerhouse Simi Valley on Jan. 13.

"Things aren't going to get any easier," Hess said.

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