Eisenhower Continues Its Season of Firsts

From Staff Reports

Rialto Eisenhower started its season with a 7-6 record, crumbling amid the heightened expectations that teased the team and its players as it struggled to stay above .500.

The best season in school history? Never could have predicted it at the time.

But showing a thirst for firsts, the Eagles went on to win a Southern Section championship last week, the school's first in boys' basketball, and on Tuesday they defeated Moreno Valley Canyon Springs, 77-69, in the Division I quarterfinals of the Southern California regional playoffs.

Sean Marshall had 25 points, Brandon Kennedy had 16 and host Eisenhower (25-7) won a game in the state playoffs for the first time in school history.

Despite the early season problems, which came against a top-notch schedule, the Eagles never wavered from their season-long goal.

"We're trying to get a state championship," said Marshall, who has signed with Boston College. "We set goals for this."

Eisenhower has won 18 of its last 19 games and will play at top-seeded Westchester, an 82-59 winner over Victorville Silverado, in a regional semifinal on Thursday.

For Canyon Springs, it was a replica of last Saturday's loss to Los Angeles Loyola in the Southern Section Division I-A championship.

In that game, the Cougars allowed Loyola to go on a 13-0 run in the fourth quarter.

Tuesday, Canyon Springs (26-6) trailed after three quarters, 54-53, and again faded, allowing Marshall to score the first six points of the fourth quarter.

Sophomore Andre McGee had 27 points for Canyon Springs and Tron Smith, who has signed with Arizona State, scored 17.

-- Mike Bresnahan

North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake 77, Santa Margarita 52 -- Bryce Taylor scored 19 of his 33 points in the third quarter when Harvard-Westlake (27-6) turned a five-point halftime lead into a 24-point bulge in leading the second-seeded Wolverines to a Division III quarterfinal victory at Harvard-Westlake.

Taylor made four of 12 shots in the first half and had 11 points. But he was close to unstoppable in the third quarter, making six of seven shots as the Wolverines outscored Santa Margarita, 31-12.

"Once I hit one or two shots, I have the confidence I can make every shot," Taylor said.

Taylor's hot streak rubbed off on teammates. Evan Harris scored 15 points and Ed White had 12. Zach Woolridge came in and cooled off Tyler Smith of Santa Margarita (20-11) in the third quarter with aggressive defense. Smith finished with 18 points.

Taylor, a 6-foot-5 junior guard, has become such an explosive scorer that Coach Greg Hilliard never knows when he might put together a barrage of points.

"I think he's very wise in picking his spots," Hilliard said. "He could tell we were having trouble on offense. After that, everyone was hot."

Harvard-Westlake will play host to Compton Centennial, a 53-51 winner over Fresno Washington, in a semifinal game Thursday.

-- Eric Sondheimer

Oceanside El Camino 82, Los Angeles Loyola 69 -- Loyola cut a 16-point second-half deficit to two points in the fourth quarter but could get no closer in a Division I quarterfinal at El Camino.

After El Camino took its biggest lead, 42-26, on the opening possession of the second half, Loyola whittled its deficit to 55-53 early in the fourth quarter on consecutive inside baskets from Chris Rucker.

But the Cubs missed their next eight shots and did not make another basket until there was 1:09 left in the game. Meanwhile, El Camino made 10 consecutive free throws to take a double-digit lead.

Second-seeded El Camino, the highest seeded San Diego Section team ever in Division I, was led by 6-6 junior center Gyno Pomare, who controlled the interior with 25 points, 15 rebounds and six blocked shots.

Omar Wilkes scored 19 points in his final game for Loyola (26-5).

On Thursday, El Camino (31-2) plays host to L.A. Fairfax (27-3), a 57-46 winner over Bakersfield.

-- Dan Arritt

Los Angeles Verbum Dei 68, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial 40 -- Amir Johnson had 24 points and 12 rebounds for host Verbum Dei (24-6) in a Division IV quarterfinal. Michael Pagan added 20 points and five assists for the Eagles, the Southern Section Division IV-A champions who will play at top-seeded San Diego Horizon (29-1), a 78-43 winner over Santa Monica Crossroads, on Thursday.

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