NEWPORT COAST - In its final game before Academy League play next
week, Sage Hill High squared off against a future league rival Friday
night, but ran out of fuel in the fourth quarter as visiting Whitney
earned a 49-37 nonleague boys basketball victory.
"They were about what I expected," Sage Hill Coach Gordon McNeill said
of the Cerritos-based Wildcats (8-5). "They're quick, they penetrate and
they play hard defense. But they're physical for a little team."
Whitney, which will move next year from the Delphic League to the
Academy, rallied for a 31-28 lead after three quarters, then poured it on
in the final period, outscoring the Lightning, 18-9.
"(The Wildcats) boxed us out and they didn't let us get anything down
low," McNeill said. "We got nothing inside and had to rely on three-point
Sage Hill (3-4), which will host highly regarded Calvary Chapel of
Downey in the league opener Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., shot only 28% from the
field (14 of 50), including a 25% effort in the first half (7 of 28).
The Lightning had three-pointers in the first quarter from 6-foot-3
sophomore Kevin Joyce (12 points) and junior guard Erik Williams (10) as
the hosts built a 12-10 lead by period's end.
To open the second period, Williams drained a 17-footer and 6-2 junior
Mike Fitzhugh (13 rebounds) scored in the paint with 6:16 left to give
Sage Hill a 16-10 advantage, its largest lead of the game.
After Williams hit a three-pointer in the second, it gave Sage Hill a
19-14 edge with 3:46 remaining in the first half, but Whitney tied it,
19-19, at halftime.
After the game was deadlocked for the seventh time (25-25), Matt Loper
canned a three-pointer for Sage Hill with 2:16 left in the third quarter.
But Whitney scored six unanswered points to take a 31-28 edge, then
added six straight to open the fourth quarter.
Joyce hit a three-pointer with 3:08 left in the game, cutting his
team's deficit to 37-33, but Whitney pulled away, outscoring Sage Hill,
12-4, the rest of the game.