Unlikely Finalists Fall Short : Boys’ basketball: Underdog Crescenta Valley goes cold in 71-60 loss to Long Beach Poly for Division I-AA title.
Basketball tip No. 1: Gotta shoot the ball through that orange round thing that protrudes from the backboard.
Long Beach Poly High did, and Crescenta Valley didn’t in the Southern Section Division I-AA final Saturday night before 13,295 at the Anaheim Arena.
Hence, Poly 71, Crescenta Valley 60.
And it wasn’t that close.
The Jackrabbits put the game away by making 12 of 14 shots from the field in the third quarter, turning an 18-16 deficit into a 46-31 lead.
“We took some shots we didn’t take in the first half,” Poly Coach Ron Palmer said. “Fortunately for us, they were going down.”
The Falcons’ zone defense was allowing open perimeter shots, but when they switched to man-to-man, Poly took layups.
“I don’t know if any defense would have mattered,” Crescenta Valley Coach John Goffredo said.
Damion Dawson was Poly’s main weapon. He made nine of 13 shots for 23 points.
Poly (25-6), the Moore League champion, shot 56% from the field. Crescenta Valley made only 39%, and needed a hot finish to push the percentage that high.
“I don’t think we had a great shooting night,” Goffredo said. “We had four great ones to get here.”
Crescenta Valley, which put up seven air balls, had trouble shooting against the background of the Anaheim Arena.
Rather than seeing a wall behind the backboard, as they do at Crescenta Valley, the Falcons shot against a backdrop of spectators.
Senior Richard O’Neill, who has averaged about 24 points this season, made only seven of 28 shots. He had 21 points.
But the background wasn’t the only problem. Poly’s defense was tough. “After watching the film, we totally underestimated their defense,” junior Brock Jacobsen said.
Jacobsen was the only shooter who played near his potential for Crescenta Valley, an at-large entry. He led all scorers in the game with 28 points on 11-of-17 shooting. The Falcons were also hurt when Blake Jacobson, the team’s 6-foot-9 center, was called for three fouls in the first quarter. He sat out the second quarter and was ineffective in the second half.
“That hurt about as much as anything could have hurt us,” Goffredo said. “He’s our force in the middle.”
Jacobson had averaged more than 10 rebounds a game in the playoffs, but he had only three against Poly.
The Falcons were outrebounded, 27-15.
Despite the loss, Crescenta Valley (19-10) has qualified for the first round of the Southern California regionals Tuesday.
The Falcons’ immediate concern? “We’ve got to find a gym,” Goffredo said, referring to the fact that the Falcons’ gym was damaged by the Jan. 17 earthquake.
Crescenta Valley will be making its first trip to the state tournament. This from a team that lost all of its starters from last season and lost its front line to injuries early this year.
“We thought we were a year away,” Goffredo said. “There was no way we thought we’d be here.”
Watching how they played in the first half, one could wonder how the Falcons got this far.
Crescenta Valley began the game moving as slowly as a glacier, a tempo the Falcons desired. They trailed, 6-5, after one quarter. “I was going to sleep,” Palmer said.
But the problem with the strategy was that it still required the Falcons to make some shots, and they didn’t.
Midway through the second quarter, Crescenta Valley had put up five air balls, most on three-point attempts, and the Falcons trailed, 16-9.
But the Falcons scored the last nine points of the half to take an 18-16 lead.