Etiwanda’s Tyree Campbell inspires on and off the basketball court

Etiwanda's Tyree Campbell (left) with his father, Zerrick, who was involved in a serious car accident last August that required amputation of his legs.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Tyree Campbell, a 6-foot-5 senior at Etiwanda, has grown into quite a basketball player, student and 17-year-old in his fourth year with the 16-2 Eagles.

“I’ve been singing his praises for a couple of years,” coach Dave Kleckner said. “He’s an underrated guy who has tremendous upside.”

Campbell does whatever Kleckner asks: Play guard, forward or center. Play defense. Be unselfish. Make three-pointers. Attack the basket.

The biggest test Campbell has faced came on Aug. 23, when his father and former coach, Zerrick, was critically injured in a car accident near the Arizona border. He was transported by helicopter to a hospital in Palm Springs. His legs had to be amputated.


Five months later, on Saturday at Pasadena City College, there was Zerrick sitting in a wheelchair watching his son score 13 points in Etiwanda’s 54-35 win over Altadena Renaissance Academy. It’s been quite a challenge for Tyree these last few months. School. Helping take care of two younger brothers. Basketball. Worrying about his father.

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“It hit me hard,” Tyree said.

He keeps moving forward.

“I’m proud of him,” Zerrick said. “He’s been able to battle. He’s been able to overcome a lot in his senior year. He’s been focused.”

Etiwanda is a team that doesn’t rely on stars. Even though Jaylen Clark scored 23 points on Saturday, the Eagles are an Open Division title contender because of the old saying, “sum of its parts.” Etiwanda has plenty of unsung contributors, and Tyree is near the top.

“I tell all my coaching friends about Tyree,” Kleckner said. “He has a complete game. He does a lot of things well.”

Trailblazers avenge loss

The featured game out of five at the Elite Invitational was a rematch from two weeks ago, and this time Chatsworth Sierra Canyon was ready. The Trailblazers (16-2) avenged an overtime defeat to Temecula Rancho Christian (16-3) with a 78-62 victory. Rancho Christian was ranked No. 1 in Southern Section Division 1 and Sierra Canyon No. 3.

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BJ Boston scored 12 of his game-high 30 points in the fourth quarter to put a stop to any Rancho Christian comeback attempt.

Ziaire Williams scored 18 of his 20 points in the first half when Sierra Canyon took a nine-point halftime lead. Dominick Harris had 17 points for Rancho Christian.

Sierra Canyon rebounded better, applied more effective full-court pressure and showed the kind of hustle needed to win a showdown game. Evan Mobley, Rancho Christian’s 7-foot center, had nine points.

Fairfax (14-3) gave the City Section something to shout about with a 66-65 win over Playa del Rey St. Bernard. Junior Barry Wilds Jr. scored 21 points. Justyn Hunter hit the go-ahead basket for Fairfax with 1:10 left.

The City Section still doesn’t have a clear title favorite with less than a month left in the regular season. Westchester plays Palisades on Monday in the Western League and Woodland Hills Taft plays Lake Balboa Birmingham in the West Valley League. On Wednesday, King-Drew faces Washington in the Coliseum League. The next Fairfax-Westchester game is Jan. 29 at Fairfax.

The eight-team Southern Section Open Division bracket has four definite contenders: Rancho Christian, Sierra Canyon, Etiwanda and Santa Ana Mater Dei. Corona Centennial and Studio City Harvard-Westlake also look likely to be selected. After that, there’s lots of options among Long Beach St. Anthony, Santa Clarita Christian, Bellflower St. John Bosco, Los Angeles Windward, Northridge Heritage Christian, San Juan Capistrano JSerra and L.A. Ribet Academy.

Ribet Academy improved to 13-1 with an 80-65 win over Lakewood Mayfair. Snookey Wiginton and Tyler Powell each scored 25 points and Barrington Hargress had 20. Ribet Academy has wins over St. Bernard and Fairfax this season. Its only loss is to Sierra Canyon.

“I think we have beaten teams that have been in the Open Division,” coach Reggie Howard said.

In a girls’ game, Vanessa De Jesus scored 18 points and Alexis Mark had 16 points in Sierra Canyon’s 59-34 victory over West Hills Chaminade.