Freshmen make impact on opening day of Classic at Damien

Anaheim Canyon freshman Brandon Benjamin
Anaheim Canyon freshman Brandon Benjamin scored 20 points on Monday at the Classic at Damien.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

When a high school basketball coach uses the term “old school” to describe a player, that’s as good a compliment as you could want. Anaheim Canyon‘s Nathan Harrison offered that kind of praise for 14-year-old freshman Brandon Benjamin, a 6-foot-3 center who finds ways to score by using his body and instincts to frustrate taller defenders in the key.

“He’s a stud, man,” Harrison said. “He’s going to be real good. He can get buckets.”

Benjamin scored 20 points Monday in Canyon’s 64-42 win over Moreno Valley Rancho Verde in an opening game of the Classic at Damien. He’s averaging 16 points and has helped lead Canyon to a 12-2 start. Harrison keeps calling Benjamin “old school” because he’s not flashy but finds ways to score and contribute. He had two threes Monday.

Another freshman making an impact was 6-5 Jovani Ruff of Long Beach Poly. He scored 15 points in the Jackrabbits’ 70-67 win over Capistrano Valley Christian in the Gold Division. The return of senior point guard Christian Watson also was key in Poly’s win.

Riverside Poly freshman Brayden Burries was burying threes in a 78-77 win over Santa Clarita West Ranch. He finished with 26 points. Chance Stephens had 25 points and Payden White 21. Andrew Meadow led West Ranch with 33 points.

More teams pulled out of tournaments throughout the Southland on Monday because of health and safety protocols, including North Hills Heritage Christian and Norco and girls’ teams from Santa Ana Mater Dei and Rancho Cucamonga Etiwanda. Tournament organizers will be scrambling to be creative on matchups or find last-minute replacements.


The biggest of the tournaments is the Classic at Damien with 81 teams.

Dec. 27, 2021

Rolling Hills Prep 51, Eastvale Roosevelt 36: Benny Gealer had 14 points and Seydi Thiombane added 13 points and 10 rebounds as Rolling Hills Prep improved to 11-0 with a win in the Gold Division at Damien.

Idaho Owyhee 66, Playa del Rey St. Bernard 54: Former Studio City Harvard-Westlake guard Liam Campbell scored 32 points for Owyhee.

Corona Centennial 89, Clovis North 28: Jared McCain led the 9-1 Huskies with 21 points.

Irvine Crean Lutheran 65, Oak Park 50: Crean Lutheran improved to 8-0 behind sophomore Vyctorius Miller, who scored 24 points. Isaiah Sherrard led Oak Park with 26 points.

Bellflower St. John Bosco 75, Murrieta Valley 52: Christian Estrada scored 20 points and sophomore Jack Turner added 14 points in his debut.

Damien 70, Sacramento Jesuit 59: The Spartans improved to 15-0. RJ Smith and Jimmy Oladukun each had 19 points.

Etiwanda 53, Sacramento Sheldon 50: Jimmy Baker led Etiwanda with 14 points.

Los Altos 47, Fountain Valley 44: Jazz Gardner scored 18 points for Los Altos.

American Fork 70, Sherman Oaks 57: Dusty Stromer had 27 points for the Knights.

Redondo Union 61, Santa Fe Springs St. Paul 56: David Solimando scored 17 points and Cole Stokes had 16 for Redondo.

Sun Valley Village Christian 66, Harbor City Narbonne 58: Deshaun Warren had 18 points and Noah Williams scored 14 points for Village Christian.

Loyola 60, Boulder City 41: Parker Jones finished with 18 points for the Cubs.

Simi Valley 72, Castaic 41: Ryder Mjoen had 21 points.

Mater Dei 68, Lakewood Mayfair 42: Kaden Minter scored 15 points, Jack McCloskey contributed 14 points and Tee Bartlett had 12 points and 12 rebounds for Mater Dei.

Mission Hills Bishop Alemany 78, Palisades 74: Mikah Ballew finished with 33 points for the Warriors (8-4).

Newbury Park 74, Santa Maria Righetti 42: Cooper Lucas scored 20 points for the Panthers.

Crescenta Valley 61, Granada Hills Kennedy 55: David Alfaro scored 16 points for Kennedy.

Las Flores Tesoro 57, Tustin 41: Carson Brown led Tesoro with 31 points.

Westlake Village Westlake 61, Camarillo 51: The Warriors are 11-2. Austin Maziasz scored 18 points.

Van Nuys Grant 62, West Covina 59: Isaiah Taylor had 18 points for Grant.

Placentia El Dorado 69, Riverside Norte Vista 45: Hudson Novak had 21 points for 13-2 El Dorado.

Burbank Providence 58, Compton Dominguez 50: Max Hudnall scored 16 points for Providence.

It’s insanity week in high school basketball with tournaments galore. The only question: With surging coronavirus cases, can games go off as planned?

Dec. 26, 2021


Girls’ basketball

Granada Hills 47, Rolling Hills Prep 43: Marianne Boco led the Highlanders with 16 points.

Sherman Oaks Notre Dame 51, Covina Northview 41: The Knights improved to 14-0.

Camarillo 64, Canyon Country Canyon 57: Gabriel Jaquez poured in 45 points for unbeaten Camarillo (14-0). Jaquez came in averaging 31.8 points.

Boys’ soccer

Moorpark 2, Santa Clarita Hart 0: Moorpark stayed unbeaten in the Hart tournament.