Jones, N. Hollywood Stun Fremont, Take 3-A Championship
North Hollywood High, behind the magnificent play of center Dana Jones, pulled off a stunning upset Friday night at the Sports Arena, winning the City Section 3-A title with a 76-71 decision over highly touted Fremont.
It marks the first boys’ basketball championship in the history of the school and propelled North Hollywood into next week’s state tournament.
Jones, a 6-foot-6 senior bound for Pepperdine, dominated the game at both ends of the floor. He scored 29 points, grabbed 29 rebounds, blocked seven shots and had two assists to make the difference in the game.
“I just wanted it real bad,” said Jones, who had been told by Coach Steve Miller that he would have to play “the game of (Jones’) life” for the Huskies (24-3) to win.
“I said, ‘I’ll do it,’ ” Jones said.
For Fremont (29-3), the state’s fifth-ranked team in Division I, the loss before 5,240 cut short a season that some had speculated would end with a state title.
“He did an outstanding job,” Fremont Coach Sam Sullivan said of Jones. “He was the key defensively. He shut us down all night and kept us from penetrating. That was the key, since we depend on penetrating offensively.”
Fremont, paced by Arlic Gillett and Chris Ford with 19 points each, shot just 30.9% from the field. North Hollywood shot 53.1%.
The Huskies, determined to make a statement, took a 35-33 halftime lead.
North Hollywood scored 15 unanswered points in four minutes to turn a 16-11 first-quarter deficit into a brow-raising 26-16 lead.
The run was built on the play of Jones, who had seven blocks and 11 rebounds in the first half.
Fremont, awakened by the Huskies’ quick start, answered with a 12-2 run toward the end of the half to tie the score, 30-30.
The Huskies, who stress a swarming 2-3 zone and try to take advantage of each fast-break opportunity, never trailed in the second half.
“We came in here, everybody was saying how this was the best 3-A team ever and we played them even,” an ecstatic Miller said. “It’s a storybook ending. A perfect scenario. Case closed.”
North Hollywood pulled away from Fremont at the close of the third quarter, playing an up-tempo game predicated on Jones’ rebounding. Leading, 41-40, with 4:40 left in the third quarter, the Huskies broke loose on a 15-3 run to build a 56-43 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Trailing, 74-62, with less than two minutes remaining, Fremont scored nine consecutive points and came within 74-71 with 38 seconds left. But North Hollywood forward Harry Marks (13 points) made two free throws with 21.9 seconds left.