Gardena 76, San Pedro 67--When Gardena plays its full-court, man-to-man pressure defense well, basketball opponents usually turn the ball over.

But when Gardena moves into a zone, it becomes vulnerable.

Those axioms were painfully evident Wednesday afternoon at Gardena where the Mohicans and San Pedro squared off in a Southern Pacific Conference contest.

With the man-to-man, the Mohicans constructed leads of 12 and 15 points. Without it, San Pedro cut into the deficit and almost tied the game.


“Our guys love to play man-to-man defense, trapping the ball handler and forcing turnovers,” said Mohicans Assistant Coach Leo Onomura. “And we get the best out of our players when we play that way.”

After falling behind 4-0, the Mohicans switched to their trapping defense and built a 37-22 lead midway through the second quarter. But when they went into the zone, San Pedro cut the lead to 48-46 with 3:10 remaining in the third period.

Gardena then went back into the man-to-man for the rest of the game and that, coupled with Chris Thompson’s six of seven from the free-throw line in the final minute, helped the Mohicans withstand San Pedro’s late charge.

Gardena improved to 11-6 overall and 2-2 in the conference while San Pedro fell to 6-8 and 1-3.

“There was no real turning point in the game,” said Onomura, who was subbing for Coach Bill Hughes. “We were just able to create some momentum and control the tempo with our defense and press.”

Center Kevin Sanders poured in a game-high 24 points, including 16 in the second half, while Thompson and Curtis Green each had 13. Cedric Williams knocked down 11 and guard Darryl McMillan scored eight and dished out eight assists.

Forward Jay Horton paced San Pedro with 22, John Wells contributed 12 and Willie Sanchez and Devay Reese scored 10 apiece.