To play basketball for coach Dave Kleckner at Etiwanda, you must be passionate about playing man-to-man defense. Few are able to teach defensive fundamentals better than the man who was dressed in a black shirt, black pants and black shoes Saturday night exhorting his team to never let Santa Margarita players out of their sight
Sophomore Jahmai Mashack took the orders literally in guarding UCLA-bound Jake Kyman. For the first time in his high school career, Kyman went scoreless.
“Hey, man,” Mashack said, “I made sure I got on him tight and didn’t foul.”
Etiwanda came away with a 55-43 semifinal victory over visiting Santa Margarita to advance to Tuesday’s Southern California Regional Division I final against Chino Hills, a 69-58 winner over Moreno Valley Rancho Verde.
It will be the ninth and final time Kleckner will have had to face Chino Hills’ Onyeka Okongwu over the last four seasons and try to devise a defense to stop him.
“No, I’m not looking forward to it,” he said smiling.
In fact, he can’t wait to turn loose his group of talented underclassmen. There were four in the starting lineup, and three came off last year’s unbeaten junior varsity team. Mashack is one of them.
Tyree Campbell, another of those ex-JV players, scored 16 points to lead Etiwanda (28-5).
Now Etiwanda will get to host Chino Hills, which received 34 points and six blocks from the 6-foot-9 Okongwu in its win over Rancho Verde.
In the Open Division, Santa Ana Mater Dei advanced to the regional final with a 67-54 win over Corona Centennial. Aidan Prukop and Nick Davidson finished with 16 points each.
The Monarchs will play top-seeded Chatsworth Sierra Canyon, which held off Westchester 65-60. The regional final will be at Simi Valley on Tuesday. Scotty Pippen Jr. and Terren Frank each scored 17 points for Sierra Canyon. Jordan Brinson scored 22 points for Westchester.
In Division II, Rancho Cucamonga and Ontario Colony moved on to the final. Rancho Cucamonga defeated Valencia 78-72. Sedrick Altman scored 40 points in Colony’s 63-60 win over Riverside Notre Dame.
In Division III, Crescenta Valley held off Granada Hills 58-57 and will face La Jolla Country Day, a 73-62 winner over Anheim Fairmont Prep.
Sierra Canyon reached the Open Division regional girls’ final with a 49-36 win over Los Angeles Windward.
Windward’s troubles began three minutes into the game when McDonald’s All-American Charisma Osborne went down with an ankle injury. She didn’t return until the fourth quarter. Vanessa De Jesus led the Trailblazers offensively, and Angela Bacoulis made three threes.
Sierra Canyon will be at top-seeded Clovis West in the regional final Tuesday. Clovis West defeated Mater Dei 68-43.
In Division I, La Jolla Country Day beat Riverside King 57-53. Anaheim Rosary defeated Fullerton Troy 63-46.