Los Alamitos High School combined a big first quarter and the clutch second-half play of Jason Cunningham to defeat visiting Katella, 86-73, Wednesday night for its second consecutive Empire League victory.
Los Alamitos Coach Steve Brooks was gratified to see his team get off to a good start as the Griffins (11-6, 2-0 in league) took a 31-19 first-quarter lead behind a trapping defense, the floor play of point guard Bryan Hakala and 10 fouls called against Katella. Four fouls were whistled on the Knights’ starting forward, Roger Arias, in the first four minutes.
But Katella (10-5, 1-1) refused to buckle. Paced by 11 third-quarter points by forward Kevin Carlson, the Knights closed the deficit to 56-55 when Carlson hit on a spinning drive to the basket with 3:10 remaining.
Hakala picked up his fourth foul with 2:52 remaining in the third quarter and Los Alamitos leading, 58-57. Cunningham, who led all scorers with 29 points and 14 rebounds, took over. The junior center scored the final two baskets in the quarter for a 62-57 lead.
Forward Dan Graham scored from underneath and Cunningham dunked to give Los Alamitos a 66-57 lead with 7:20 left. The Griffins built it to 78-65 on Ali Miller’s two free throws with 2:56 remaining.
“We regrouped and came back, which is the sign of a good team,” Brooks said.
Graham scored 19 and Hakala added 11 points and 10 assists for the Griffins. Kevin and Brian Carlson scored 19 and 18 points respectively for the Knights.