Who’s more valuable to their team, Ellis Richardson of Poly High or Brandon Jacobs of Sylmar?
If the outcome of Wednesday’s Mid-Valley League basketball game between the visiting Spartans and the Parrots is any indication, the answer is Richardson.
That’s because with both stars sidelined, Sylmar defeated Poly, 55-49, to move within a game of the first-place Parrots (15-6, 6-1 in league play) in the standings with three games remaining.
Richardson, a 6-foot-3 senior forward who is averaging 18.3 points and 7.1 rebounds, missed the game because of an injured right ankle that will sideline him for the rest of the regular season. He might have surgery to remove a bone chip.
Jacobs, a 5-11 sophomore guard averaging 11.5 points and 5.8 assists, didn’t play because Spartan Coach Bort Escoto said he needed to be “decaffeinated.” Asked if decaffeinated translated to disciplinary reasons, Escoto said it was a “coach’s decision not to play him.”
Whatever the reason, Sylmar (11-9, 5-2) seemed more comfortable without Jacobs than Poly, the No. 7-ranked team in the region, did without Richardson.
The Spartans made only 23 of 64 shots, but they scored six baskets on rebounds and forced Poly into 16 turnovers.
“We just played our own game,” said Sylmar guard Jason Harris, who scored 11 points. “We pressed hard and we hit the boards. We weren’t worried about who was going to play and who wasn’t.”
Harris was one of three Spartans who scored in double figures and he played a prominent role when Sylmar extended a three-point lead to 49-40 with 2:47 left to play.
Leading, 43-40, after Robert Valentine hit one of two free throws, Sylmar took a five-point lead when Tony Linares scored inside after the 6-1 Harris kept the ball alive on the offensive glass.
Harris’ 15-foot jump shot increased the Spartans’ lead to 47-40 and his layup gave them a nine-point lead.
He scored Sylmar’s final points on a layup with 14 seconds left and though Poly scored four points in the final five seconds, the Parrots’ nine-game winning streak ended.
“The kids really wanted it today,” Escoto said. “We were prepared to play them with or without Richardson.”
Daron Wilson scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Spartans and Jeremiah Turner had 11 points and seven assists.
Johnny Gillard led Poly with 12 points, but the Parrots hit only 19 of 59 shots.