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Damien helps Open Division playoff chances with 59-45 win over Etiwanda

Damien guard RJ Smith is saluted by his sister Kennedy and mom Monica.
On senior night at Damien, guard RJ Smith is saluted by his sister Kennedy and mom Monica.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)
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RJ Smith made it clear there was no chance he was leaving Damien’s gym without a victory on senior night.

“No. I could not,” he said. “It’s a team goal we want to win league.”

The Spartans came away with a 59-45 victory over Etiwanda on Monday night, leaving Damien (23-2, 6-1) and Etiwanda (18-6, 7-1) deadlocked for first place in the Baseline League. It also avenged the Spartans’ loss to Etiwanda earlier this season.

Smith, headed to Colorado, has a sister, Kennedy, who is a standout player for Etiwanda’s No. 1-ranked girls’ basketball team. When big brother is playing against Etiwanda, Kennedy is there. She was wearing her brother’s green No. 5 jacket.

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“She loves supporting me and I love supporting her,” RJ said.

There’s not much that Smith doesn’t do well. He finished with 14 points, had a couple of assists, made all six of his free throws and played solid defense against Etiwanda’s Curtis Williams, who fouled out with just eight points. Damien had balance. Spivey Word scored 16 points, Kaleb Smith had 15 points and Jimmy Oladokun had 10 points. Jacob Barcelo scored 12 points in the third quarter for Etiwanda when he tried to help the Eagles come back from a 16-point deficit.

Damien’s victory helps the Spartans’ chance to make the Southern Section Open Division playoffs and severely hurts the chances of Etiwanda, which appears headed to the Division 1 playoffs after winning the Open Division regional title last season.

Grant 70, Sun Valley Poly 64: The Lancers avenged an earlier East Valley League defeat to the Parrots. Jeremiah Windham finished with 32 points and 11 rebounds.

Westchester 67, LACES 39: The Comets picked up an important Western League win. Angel Corona had 18 points.

Venice 54, Palisades 43: The Gondoliers improved to 8-0 in the Western League behind sophomore Tyler Hunt, who scored 20 points and had seven rebounds. It sets up a Wednesday showdown at Fairfax (7-0). The Lions defeated University 74-43.

Chatsworth 68, Cleveland 46: Tim Lopez finished with 21 points for the Chancellors.

Riverside Poly 51, Rancho Verde 48: Brayden Burries scored 19 points and Payden White had 18 to help Poly clinchy the Ivy League championship.

Heritage Christian 57, Village Christian 45: Barrington Hargress finished with 30 points for Heritage Christian.

Girls’ basketball

Rosary 51, Mater Dei 40: Kaylee Byon scored 23 points to help Rosary earn a share of the Trinity League championship with the Monarchs.

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Boys’ soccer

King/Drew 2, Fremont 1: Fremont had its 56-game unbeaten streak in the Coliseum League end.

Salesian 3, Cathedral 2: In double overtime, Salesian came away with the win.

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