Bishop Montgomery overcomes absence of three starters to hold off Sierra Canyon

Sierra Canyon forward K.J. Martin soars for a dunk during the first half of Friday night’s showdown against reigning state champion Bishop Montgomery in the Take Flight Challenge at Cerritos College.
(Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

The talent on the floor would make any college coach green with envy, and after 32 minutes full of highlight-reel dunks, crossover dribbles and behind-the-back passes, Torrance Bishop Montgomery knocked off Chatsworth Sierra Canyon 65-62 Friday night in the marquee matchup of the fifth annual Take Flight Challenge at Cerritos College.

The 13th game of the season proved anything but unlucky for reigning CIF Open Division state champion Bishop Montgomery, which prevailed despite missing three of its best players to extend its winning streak to 28 games in a showdown between The Times’ No. 1 and No. 2-ranked teams.

With his team clinging to a one-point lead, Nick Schrader drew a charge against Sierra Canyon junior guard Scotty Pippen Jr. and Josh Vasquez was fouled intentionally on the inbounds play. He made both foul shots to put the Knights ahead by three with 9.7 seconds left, then K.J. Martin missed a three-point try on Sierra Canyon’s final possession.

Star point guard Gianni Hunt, who broke two bones in his ankle during practice in November, was hoping to make his season debut but didn’t play. Also not playing for the Knights were UCLA-bound senior David Singleton (nose injury) and Will Crawford (ankle sprain).

“We still had five very good players on the floor and fatigue hit us hard, but I was proud of the way we played defensively,” said coach Doug Mitchell, who is in his 29th season at Bishop Montgomery. “I didn’t think we played particularly well in the first half, but we were still in it.”


Fletcher Tynen scored 16 points, Schrader had 12 and Oscar Lopez added 11 for Bishop Montgomery, which took a 63-62 lead on Jalen Washington’s free throw with 17 seconds remaining.

Guard-forward Cassius Stanley scored 14 for the Trailblazers (10-2), who were trying to avenge a 70-63 defeat in the Southern Section Open Division semifinals last winter. All five Sierra Canyon starters played at different schools last season.

Pippen, son of the NBA Hall of Famer, had 11 points; West Hills Chaminade transfer Martin, son of former NBA player Kenyon Martin, added 10 points, as did Duane Washington Jr., a transfer from Grand Rapids Christian in Michigan, and Terren Frank, who transferred from Harvard-Westlake along with Stanley and guard-forward L Simpson.

The only question remaining for Bishop Montgomery: Just how good can the Knights be?

“I think we have the potential to be even better than last year,” Mitchell said. “We aren’t there yet, but if we can get all of our guys healthy we’ll have more depth than last year.”