Sierra Canyon holds off Windward in a Gold Coast League thriller

It’s been a season of traveling around the country for the Chatsworth Sierra Canyon basketball team and letting fans in Minnesota, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Ohio and Massachusetts get a glimpse of what L.A. glitz and L.A. celebrity look like.

Sierra Canyon has played games before 17,000 in Minnesota and 14,000 in Texas, but CSUN’s Matadome had plenty of open seats in its upper level (2,400 seating capacity) on Thursday night for the Trailblazers’ Gold Coast League game against Los Angeles Windward.

The game turned out to be a thriller. With UNLV-bound Devin Tillis scoring 27 points, Windward put up stubborn, strong competition to the No. 1-ranked team in Southern California. It took two free throws with 19.8 seconds left from 7-foot-3 Harold Yu to enable Sierra Canyon (19-3, 2-0) to breathe a sigh of relief and come away with a 71-68 victory.

“Good God,” Windward coach Colin Pfaff said. “I didn’t realize he made free throws like that.”

Yu scored 17 points and was five of five from the free-throw line. Who says 7-footers can’t shoot free throws?


“One of my parents always made me shoot free throws,” said Yu, a junior from Hangzhou, China. “It’s always been in my muscle memory.”

Windward (18-6, 1-2) had several opportunities to take the lead in the fourth quarter. Three-point shots barely missed, leaving Pfaff thinking, “We were a few inches away from a couple winning possessions. Our team competed well.”

The Wildcats tied the score at 59-59 with 4:07 left on a Dylan Andrews free throw. But Sierra Canyon tightened its defense and turned to its newly announced McDonald’s All-Americans, Ziaire Williams and BJ Boston. Williams, who scored 19 points, contributed a three-point play. Boston, who scored 20 points, made a pair of free throws.

But Tillis kept delivering, leaving it up to Yu to bail out the Trailblazers.

Sierra Canyon was coming off a loss at the HoopHall Classic on Monday. Coach Andre Chevalier said his team usually improves after a loss because his players respond with an increased sense of urgency. The Trailblazers opened a 14-point lead in the first half and led by eight points at halftime.

Pfaff has Windward facing quite a challenge this week. On Saturday, the Wildcats face No. 2 Corona Centennial at Harbor College in the Rolling Hills Prep State Preview Classic. He’ll soon be able to answer the question who’s No. 1 in Southern California.

“FaceTime me on Saturday night and I’ll let you know,” Pfaff said.

In a top girls basketball game, Santa Ana Mater Dei got a winning basket from Brooke Demetre to defeat Fullerton Rosary 64-62.

McDonald’s Game: Four Southern California high school boys’ basketball players were selected for the McDonald’s All American Game on April 1 in Houston. Joining Sierra Canyon’s Boston and Williams are Joshua Christopher of Lakewood Mayfair and Evan Mobley of Temecula Rancho Christian.

Boston has signed with Kentucky and Mobley with USC. Williams and Christopher are undecided in their college choices.