It was five hours before the Sierra Canyon boys’ basketball team took the floor against Cathedral Catholic and the line in front of the San Diego Montgomery High School gym was hundreds of people long.
It had been like that all week as the Trailblazers, the star-studded No. 1 team in the state, played three games at the San Diego Tip-Off Challenge, with each game sold out.
Sierra Canyon’s opponent Saturday was the consensus No. 1 team in San Diego, and though the Dons might not have had the glitzy names and reputation of the Chatsworth-based powerhouse, they featured a squad that has played together for years and includes multiple future Division I college players.
Cathedral Catholic fed off the energy of the home crowd and opened the game with a 12-0 run over the first four minutes that had the San Diego-heavy crowd cheering at every early bucket, but once Sierra Canyon settled in, it regained control and took its third victory of the year 59-46.
“They were going fast and we thought that was to our benefit,” Trailblazers’ coach Andre Chevalier said. “We picked up our defense and didn’t think they could sustain [that pace], so we were OK with it. The kids are still learning each other and our system, so it was great to see them persevere and get the win.”
Chevalier’s early decision to remain calm paid dividends as Sierra Canyon (3-0) outscored Cathedral Catholic 25-7 over the final 12 minutes of the first half to take a 25-19 into the break.
The Trailblazers’ defense continued to cause problems and turnovers for Cathedral Catholic as Sierra Canyon opened up a 14-point lead, 42-28, with 2:10 left in the third quarter.
The offensive spark in the period was sophomore forward Shy Odom who scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds, three offensive, in the third.
Odom, who transferred in from Chestnut Hill (Mass.) Beaver Country Day School, doesn’t receive the same fanfare as teammates B.J. Boston, Zaire Wade, Terren Frank or Bronny James, but that’s how he likes it.
“I do what it takes for us to get a win at the end of the day,” said Odom, who finished with game-highs in points and rebounds with 20 and 10, respectively. “I’m not really about the flashy stuff.”
There wasn’t a ton of the flashy stuff when it comes to lob dunks or ankle-breaking crossover dribbles as Cathedral Catholic managed to climb back into the game at the end of the third.
Dons’ junior point guard Alex Wade connected on a three-pointer with 15 seconds left in the period, cutting the Trailblazers’ lead to 44-37.
Cathedral Catholic hung tough early in the fourth, as well, when Thomas Notarainni’s corner three-pointer cut the Sierra Canyon lead to 49-42 with 6:11 to play.
Odom again came to the rescue, putting the game on ice with a couple of put-back buckets, both of which resulted in fouls and traditional three-point plays, and the second putting the Trailblazers up 59-44 with 2:14 to play.
Boston, who will head to Kentucky next fall, finished with 12 points, while sophomore guard Amari Bailey had 11 for the Trailblazers.