It’s the NBA All-Star break, so the pride of Compton High, DeMar DeRozan of the San Antonio Spurs, decided to spend his Wednesday night supporting the team and his former coach, Tony Thomas, in their Southern Section 2-AA playoff opener at Santa Monica.
“Big win,” DeRozan said.
Compton (20-9) pulled off the upset, defeating Ocean League champion Santa Monica 48-45. Compton The Tarbabes’ defense held Santa Monica scoreless for more than six minutes of the second quarter, going on an 11-0 run and leaving the Vikings (18-10) down by nine points at halftime.
Santa Monica tied the score with 14 seconds left when Ethan Berks made two free throws, but Compton’s Patrick Johnson made a free throw with 8.7 seconds and Jabari Steward added two more free throws with 2.9 seconds left to deliver victory.
Thomas felt all kinds of pressure, because he plans to take his entire team to Galen Center on Thursday when USC will retire DeRozan’s jersey.
“I didn’t want to go to USC with my head down,” Thomas said. “It’s going to be fun now.”
Santa Monica had come in as one of the hottest teams with an 11-game win streak. But Compton’s two 6-foot-8 players, Steward and Darrius Miles, were able to control the boards and force Santa Monica to make outside shots. The Vikings were cold, making two threes the entire game.
Steward led Compton with 16 points. Kobi Malone was a key contributor in the first half. He made three threes, forcing Santa Monica to abandon its zone defense. Miles blocked six shots. Quincy McGriff led Santa Monica with 11 points.
Nothing cooler than NBA player supporting his alma mater. DeMar DeRozan and Compton. pic.twitter.com/iOTLOTGdnK— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) February 13, 2020
DeRozan stood against the wall next to Compton’s bench in the second quarter. His presence provided confidence and emotional support to players.
“It just shows if he can do it and come back, we have no reason not to play hard,” Miles said.
DeRozan spent four years at his neighborhood school and has been a loyal supporter of Thomas, who must fight off other schools for top players in Compton.
“It’s my guy,” Thomas said of DeRozan. “He never left. We got each other’s backs for life.”
Compton advances to play Capistrano Valley Christian, which upset Rolling Hills Prep 41-40 in overtime.
Division 2-AA is considered the toughest 32-team bracket in the Southern Section. Oak Park survived a double-overtime thriller, defeating Downey Warren 107-103. Clark Slajchert finished with a career-high 56 points, making 19 of 19 from the free-throw line, including nine for nine in the second overtime. Andre Henry scored 28 points and had 15 rebounds as St. Francis defeated La Canada 62-56.
In Division 1, top-seeded Los Angeles Windward defeated Los Angeles Loyola 70-54. Devin Tillis scored 19 points. Sherman Oaks Notre Dame defeated Hacienda Heights Los Altos 86-73. Ben Shtolzberg scored 23 points and freshman Dusty Stromer 18. Encino Crespi received 22 points from freshman Mike Price in a 61-41 win over Crescenta Valley.
Brentwood rallied for a 64-59 win over Villa Park. Sophomore Christian Moore scored 27 points.