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Poly Gets It Straight, Advances to Playoffs

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

It was a simple question, one that Poly High forward Nick Lymberopoulos assumed would have just as straightforward an answer.

“Is our next game Friday?” Lymberopoulos asked Coach Al Uyemura before Thursday’s East Valley League game against Sylmar.

Uyemura bristled. “We have to take care of this one first,” he said.

The Parrots needed to defeat the Spartans to assure themselves of a third-place tie in the league. Even then, they would not make the City Section 3-A Division playoffs Friday unless Van Nuys lost to North Hollywood on Thursday as well.

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Not exactly the most straightforward solution.

But Poly found an easy way to solve the problem, breezing to a 62-53 victory at home that, coupled with Van Nuys’ 50-48 loss to North Hollywood, gives the Parrots third place and a playoff berth.

Poly (12-8, 5-5 in league play) qualified for postseason play for the fourth consecutive year.

Sylmar (7-9, 3-7) jumped out to a 14-6 lead when Poly missed its first four shots and the Spartans’ Shawn Rucker scored eight points on two three-point baskets and a drive through the lane.

“We came out really flat,” Uyemura said. “We have a tendency to come out flat either in the first or third quarter.”

But the Parrots turned it around and put together a 25-9 run that gave them a 31-23 lead midway through the second quarter.

“I really liked the way the guys got it rolling,” Uyemura said. “They didn’t panic; they took care of business.”

Scott Cooper was Poly’s best businessman. The 6-1 junior forward scored 8 of his game-high 30 points in the first quarter. He also made 10 of 10 free throws in the game.

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And, with Sylmar trying to close a 10-point gap at the start of the fourth quarter, Cooper scored four consecutive points to give Poly a 51-37 lead. Cooper scored on a fast-break layup and Sylmar’s Henry Myles was given a technical foul after he hit the backboard trying to block Cooper’s shot.

Cooper made both free throws after the technical and Sylmar never got closer than eight points.

“They took care of the ball really well and we didn’t take good shots,” Sylmar Coach Billy Reed said.

Sylmar was hampered by the loss of two starters who were declared academically ineligible Tuesday.

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