Slow start doesn't slow down West L.A. in the end as Wildcats beat Las Positas to advance

West L.A. beat Las Positas to move on at the CCCAA Men's Basketball Championship tournament. (David Sanborn)
West L.A. beat Las Positas to move on at the CCCAA Men's Basketball Championship tournament. (David Sanborn)

LEMOORE — After a lackluster start to its CCCAA Men's Basketball Championship quarterfinal game, West Los Angeles, the south's No. 1 seed, turned up the pressure on Las Positas and secured a 77-64 victory.

West Los Angeles (28-3), winners of 20 straight, advances to the semifinals on Friday, March 12 against the winner of the West Valley-Citrus winner. Las Positas, the north's No. 4 seed, finished the season 27-4.

West Los Angeles used a 17-4 run over the final 9:20, breaking what had been a 60-60 tie.

Las Positas, which got off to a fast start, struggled down the stretch. The Hawks made just one their final eight shots in the final four and half minutes. In the final nine minutes, Las Positas managed just two baskets. 

"Slow starts have been our thing all year, unfortunately," Anthony Jones, head coach of West Los Angeles, said. "We've talked about it, and I have changed a bunch of things to try and address it, but it has continued throughout the year."

It was a flip of scripts in the second half as West Los Angeles struggled early, going nearly the first five minutes of the game without a basket. Las Positas used the time to open a 14-5 lead, the largest lead in the first half. West Los Angeles, however, subbed five players and turned up the defense. Behind its full-court pressure defense the Wildcats slowly cut the lead, eventually tying it at 22-22 with 9:30 left.

West Los Angeles forced seven Las Positas turnovers in the first half, resulting in 10 points. West Los Angeles used a six-minute stretch to open a 38-31 advantage. The Wildcats would eventually settle for a 42-36 halftime advantage.

Las Positas' Jordahn Johnson, an all-state selection, scored 14 first-half points, keeping the Hawks in the contest. He finished with 22 points, 12 rebounds. He played 35 of the 40 minutes, one of three Las Positas players to play 30 minutes or more. Teammates Kalique Mitchell came off the bench to score 12 and Dathan Satchell added 15.

Roy Clark, an all-state selection for West Los Angeles ,led the Wildcats with 18 points, 11 of his points come in the first half. His seven second-half points came in the final nine minutes and over a 5:28 stretch when the Wildcats put together its 17-4 run. Teammate Matthew Mayes added 11.

"These guys have answered the call all year," Jones said when asked about the slow start. "Luckily I have so many guys who can score that eventually we find our game."

West Los Angeles pressure defense forced 18 Las Positas turnovers. After committing seven turnovers in the first half, Las Positas turned the ball over 11 times in the final 20 minutes. West Los Angeles turned the Hawks' turnovers into 16 points. West Los Angeles also cashed in on the boards, outrebounding Las Positas, 39-35, and scoring 20 second-half points.

(Robert Schmidt, CCCMBCA)