Ken Manor, a 6-foot-4 senior forward from Chatsworth High by way of Israel, is seeking his second basketball league championship in his three-year varsity career. That the first was earned during his sophomore season at Ort High in Tel Aviv added an international flavor to Thursday's showdown with Reseda.
Perhaps Manor's experience abroad explains his flawless play in the crucial West Valley League game.
"They take it very seriously there," said Manor, who moved to the United States after his sophomore year.
Manor shredded Reseda for a career-high 27 points in host Chatsworth's 70-66 victory. The Chancellors moved into first place, a half-game ahead of the Regents.
The recipient of many passes inside from Chatsworth's spread offense, Manor made 13 of 15 shots from the field, including 10 of 10 in the second half. Yet he almost was upstaged by Reseda point guard Trenton Cross, who finished with 34 points.
Cross, a 5-9 sophomore, made 11 of 15 shots in the second half to lead a frenetic comeback attempt by the Regents, who scored 31 points in the fourth quarter. Cross scored 29 of Reseda's 45 points in the second half to help the Regents (11-6, 6-2 in league play) roar back from a third-quarter deficit that once reached 17 points.
"It's disappointing because we weren't really focused," Cross said. "If we'd have played the first half like we did the second, it would have been a different story."
Chatsworth's victory made a complicated story of the West Valley race, which was scheduled to end today. Rainouts last week, however, left Reseda in the lurch.
With a victory today over San Fernando, Chatsworth (15-6, 7-2) can clinch at least a share of the league championship. Reseda, seeking its second league title in a row, will play El Camino Real today. If Reseda and Chatsworth both win, or if they both lose, the Regents again will play El Camino Real in a makeup game Monday. A victory in each game would assure Reseda of at least a co-championship.
Of course, a victory over Chatsworth would have left Reseda in great shape, and the Regents nearly pulled it off. Reseda trailed, 40-23, with 4 minutes 10 seconds left in the third quarter but rallied behind Cross, who scored the team's next eight points. Manor, however, scored eight of Chatsworth's final 10 points in the quarter for a 52-35 lead entering the fourth.
Cross, who scored 10 of Reseda's 14 points in the third, was just getting started.
He scored 19 points in the fourth quarter, including three three-point baskets, the last of which brought Reseda to within 68-66 with 50 seconds left.
Manor was fouled with 31 seconds remaining. He made the first of two free throws to give Chatsworth a three-point lead.
Reseda's Marquis Burns, who was held to 14 points by the man-to-man defense of Chris Dunbar, missed a three-point attempt with Dunbar in his face and Manor grabbed the rebound with 12 seconds left.
Dunbar was fouled and made the first of two free throws for a four-point lead with eight seconds remaining.