SoCalHoops Playoff News
CIF-SS I-AA Championship: LB
Jump All Over Ike Eagles--(Mar. 3, 2002)
CIF-SS Division I-AA Boy's Championship Game
Last night we said about all we really had to say about this 64-53 slugfest (and we do mean "slug-fest"), which Long Beach Poly won in surprisingly quick order, taking the Eagles out of their game, and out of the title in the opening minutes with a barrage of scoring. We posted several live updates on the message board, direct from the Pond during the game, and so we're kind of all talked out about this one. It was the last game of the day, a very long day of championship basketball, and by the time this slugfest got going, we had that glazed-over feeling...which was how we're certain Eisenhower felt when it was all over...and they definitely looked a bit foggy right from the start.
So we'll just let the numbers below and others who write about such things for a living, do the talking. We thought it would be interesting to not only put out the box score, but to see what others, who normally cover these teams had to say about this game. We've included the complete box score from last night, and this morning went looking to see what Ted Kian, on the one hand, and Damian Secore and Paul Oberjuerge on the other hand, had to say about the game. Ted covers Poly for the Long Beach Press Enterprise and Damian Secore covers Eisenhower for the Riverside Press-Enterprise, whileOberjuerge is the sports editor of the San Bernardino Sun. We would have thrown in the LA Times' coverage too, but Tim Dermody's story there is really more of the "just the facts, ma'am" variety....Still, it's a good, quick read if you want to check it out. And finally, there was a short take on the game as well in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin's Prep section from Aaron Mendonca.
Visitors: Long Beach Poly
|Total FG||1st Half||13/29||448||2nd Half||9/22||409||Game||22/51||431|
|2PT FG||1st Half||2/6||333||2nd Half||2/6||333||Game||4/12||333|
|Free Throws||1st Half||3/6||500||2nd Half||13/29||448||Game||1/635||457|
|Total FG||1st Half||6/13||462||2nd Half||13/30||400||Game||18/43||419|
|2PT FG||1st Half||2/3||667||2nd Half||1/4||350||Game||3/7||420|
|Free Throws||1st Half||3/15||200||2nd Half||11/15||733||Game||14/30||467|
Long Beach Poly 15 16
Eisenhower 5 12 16 20--53
First up is Ted Kian's take on the game. Ted covers Poly and teams in the Long Beach area for a living....he knows these guys this season about as well as anyone, in fact better sometimes than even they know themselves. The original of his article can be found, along with other great high school coverage, including girl's playoff coverage, in today's Long Beach Press-Telegram.
Poly shows experience, claims crown
Boys basketball: 'Rabbits take big lead, top Eisenhower in I-AA.
By Ted Kian
Playing in a CIF-Southern Section boys basketball final for the 31st time in school history, Poly High looked right at home in the Pond in Saturday's Division I-AA final against No. 1 seed Eisenhower, which was making the initial championship game appearance in school history.
The Jackrabbits showed their comfort level in big games by opening up an 18-point lead early in the second quarter and then cruised to a 64-53 victory over the Eagles en route to capturing the program's 16th CIF-SS title.
Senior forward Bobby Jones, who won CIF Division II state titles in his first three seasons at Dominguez, was one of four Poly players to score in double digits, finishing with 15 points to help the Jackrabbits (28-3) avenge a 73-59 loss to Eisenhower (27-3) on Dec.21st of this season in the semifinals of the Mission Prep Classic.
Due to this victory, Poly will likely be awarded one of the top three seeds when pairings for the CIF Division I Southern California Regionals are announced today. The Jackrabbits are also expected to host a first-round home game on Wednesday.
"I think our experience showed and it was clear that (Eisenhower) hadn't been here and didn't know the surroundings," Poly coach Ron Palmer. "I told the kids that it's going to be difficult to shoot in this arena, but that they had to knock shots down. We came out and went right to the basket and got layups. This was definitely a big game and overall I'm pleased with our performance. This feels good, but we're not done yet. We're looking forward to state."
While Jones' career has been personified by top performances in marquee games, Palmer was particularly pleased that senior forwards Reggie Butler and Marcedes Lewis each contributed one of his best all-around games of the season. Butler had 15 points, 6 rebounds and 2 steals, including a trio of highlight-reel dunks that Palmer said boosted his team's morale. The 6-6 Butler did not return after leaving the game with a minor concussion late in the third quarter, but he said afterward that he expects to be 100 percent for Wednesday.
Lewis, a star in football who admittedly has been slow to get back into basketball shape after joining the team late, had 12 points, a game-high 8 rebounds and 4 assists.
"We knew that because they beat us the first time that Eisenhower would be overconfident," Lewis said. "But we came through in key situations and did what we had to do. We've been in (championship games) and I think that had a big part to do with the outcome. I feel great. We're getting better and we're not done yet, because our goal is to win a state championship."
Poly looked sharp from the outset, tallying five assists and five steals in a first quarter that ended with the Jackrabbits leading, 15-5, and was culminated by Butler's thunderous dunk off an alley-oop from Carlos Rivers.
A layup by Lewis off an assist from Barry Barnes improved the Jackrabbits' advantage to 27-9 with 4 minutes, 45 seconds remaining in the second quarter, as Eisenhower continued to play poorly, making 0 of 10 free throws and committing 10 turnovers over the game's first 12 minutes. Finally displaying some continuity, Eisenhower finished the half on an 8-4 run to cut Poly's lead to 31-17.
The Jackrabbits, however, continued their stalwart play in the third quarter, opening up the biggest lead of the game at 47-27 on a 3-pointer from Rivers with 3:01 remaining in the quarter. But the Eagles responded with a 6-0 run to end the third quarter and then cut their deficit to 48-37 after a pair of free throws by Johnny Dukes with 6:49 left in the game.
Eisenhower, however, could never get back within single digits during the last three quarters.
Next up is Damian Secore, who covers Rialto Eisenhower year in and year out. Like Ted Kian, he knows this team and his take on the game gives it to you from the Eisenhower region's perspective. This can be found in today's Riverside Press-Enterprise, along with a lot of really good high school coverage (e.g., some good stuff on the King v. Redondo Union game):
Eisenhower shown up
By DAMIAN SECORE
ANAHEIM - Sean Marshall laid flat on the floor, arms and legs fully spread, helpless with a minute and four seconds left in Rialto Eisenhower's first CIF title game. What a fitting pose.
The Eagles played the first half as if they were deer in headlights and were run over by traditional power Long Beach Poly, 64-53, in the CIF Division 1AA title game before an evening session crowd of 7,845 at The Pond.
It is Poly's 17th CIF championship, the fourth in the past eight years and the eighth under Coach Ron Palmer. Palmer won his first with the Jackrabbits in 1976. Poly's most recent title before this was in 2000.
"Most of them have been here before," Eagles senior captain Johnny Dukes said. "This is our first time. A lot of people were nervous, scared."
Added Marshall, a junior captain: "We did come out and play soft. They just exploded."
Three-time defending Citrus Belt League champ Eisenhower (27-3) and Poly (28-3) looked evenly matched on paper, and it was the Eagles that won the teams' December meeting, 73-59.
But in this case, Eisenhower never led and never pulled within single digits after the Jackrabbits led 15-5 after one quarter.
The Eagles hoped to showcase their "Big Three" -- 6-foot-6 swingman Marshall (the Eagles' leading scorer at 20 points per game), 6-9 Dukes (17 ppg) and 6-7 Cory McJimson (17 ppg) in the frontcourt -- but they only scored a combined 41 points. Marshall had 21 (only two in the first half), Dukes 11 and McJimson nine.
Poly countered with 6-7 swingman and 20-points-per-game scorer Bobby Jones (15 points, seven rebounds) and a frontcourt of 6-7 Marcedes Lewis (12 points, eight rebounds) and 6-6 Reggie Butler (15 points, six rebounds).
The Jackrabbits ran their lead to 27-9 midway through the second. Jarel Perry had five of his eight points down the stretch to help settle the Eagles down but they still trailed 31-17 at halftime -- the Eagles' lowest first-half output of the season.
Eisenhower's Achilles' heel -- ball-handling -- was exposed from the outset. The Eagles committed eight first-quarter turnovers and had as many turnovers as shot attempts (13) in the half. Poly had 11 points off turnovers to Eisenhower's one in the half.
The Eagles also missed their first nine free throws and 12 of 15 in the first 16 minutes (McJimson was 1 of 9). With Poly outrebounding Eisenhower (six offensive rebounds) by 32-21 for the game, a comeback was too much to ask.
Said Eagles coach Steve Johnson: "I don't think our decision making was real good and our free throw shooting . . . if we make a few more of our free throws, I think we're still in the game.
Guarded by 5-9 Barry Barnes, Marshall, inexplicably, had only four touches in the entire first half, missing all three of his shots.
"I was asking for the ball," Marshall said. "I really don't know what happened there."
Eisenhower still has a chance to atone for its forgettable Saturday when it plays in the CIF state playoffs Wednesday.
Finally, this perspective is from the San Bernardino County Sun, by Paul Oberjuerge, who covers the Eagles for that paper on a regular basis.
Ike left asking 'what if?'
By Paul Oberjuerge
San Bernardino County Sun
ANAHEIM It seemed the grist of a hokey movie. A tear-jerker. "If you had those eight minutes to live over again." Starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. About missed opportunities and missed connections.
"If you had those eight minutes back." Long sigh. Long faces. One of those deals. Hand the hanky, please. If only. Sniff.
When Eisenhower High School's Eagles think back on this game five years, 10 years, heck, 25 years hence, they might well dwell on the eight minutes of the first quarter in the biggest basketball game in the school's 43-year history.
The eight minutes that all but doomed them to defeat in the CIF-Southern Section Division I-AA title game before 7,845 onlookers at The Pond.
The game started at 8:31 p.m. Had it started at 8:39, Ike would have made this one long batch of nervous time.
Instead, Long Beach Poly led 15-5 at the end of the first period, establishing a double-digit cushion it would never lose, despite the Eisenhower wake-up call that came about the middle of second quarter.
It was a nightmarish start for the Eagles. It began when junior guard Jarel Perry, trying to make something good happen in the opening seconds, hurled a lob pass almost into the stands.
One trip, one turnover, one evil omen.
It went from there, and it was just about a team-wide meltdown. Or false start.
Leading scorer Sean Marshall had trouble getting untracked. The 6-foot-5 junior was shadowed by Poly's 5-9 guard Barry Barnes and, almost inexplicably, all but disappeared behind the little guy. Go-to guy Marshall didn't take a shot until 1:21 was left in the quarter and it was already 13-5.
Cory McJimson, the senior forward, was the one Eagle who seemed ready to go, taking the ball to the basket every time he touched it. He drew three fouls ... and then missed all six of his free throws. This from a guy who came into the game shooting 65 percent from the line.
Perry made three more turnovers. Idris Moss had a turnover and a foul. John Shields had a turnover and a foul. So did Johnny Dukes.
Dukes, however, contributed a three-pointer and a field goal. Otherwise, Ike would have been shut out.
It was exactly the scenario Ike coaches feared. "We need to get into the flow of the game early," coach Steve Johnson said an hour before the game. "We can't fall into a hole.
"We got down, like, 21-3 to Artesia a couple years ago, and we even led, but it was too big a deficit."
So was this one. Too big a hole against a Poly team that was clearly improved from the team's first matchup, a 73-59 Eisenhower victory in the San Luis Obispo tournament semifinals back on Dec. 21.
"We will have to play our best game," Ike assistant Scott Kay said, also before the game. "I know Poly has gotten better, and they're playing really well."
The first quarter final tally: Nine Ike turnovers, 2-for-5 shooting, 0-for-6 from the line, four personal fouls, outrebounded 8-2. And the period capped by a rouse-the-Poly-fans lob-and-dunk by the Jackrabbits' Reggie Butler.
In other words, it was almost certainly the worst eight minutes of the season by a team that went 27-3. And it couldn't have come at a worse time.
Truth be told, Poly was the better team, and not just in the first eight minutes. The Jackrabbits were more athletic, jumped better, rebounded harder and handled the ball better. And Marcedes Lewis, the 6-foot-7 tight end headed for UCLA on a football scholarship, was twice the player he was in that first matchup, when he still had what basketball coaches derisively call "grass legs."
Still, Eisenhower finagled a way to hang the final three quarters, losing the final 24 minutes only 49-48.
The Poly lead got to 27-9, and from there Ike was as competitive as you could want. McJimson made some field goals, and a free throw. Perry got five points in the second quarter. Marshall came out of hiding to hit a pair of free throws.
It got better in the second half. Marshall came alive, and ignored the Poly hacking and the double-teaming, and scored 19 points over the final two quarters, Deonte Nelson came off the bench and provided spark at guard. Dukes did some rebounding work. Moss made a couple of free throws.
It wasn't exactly the Eisenhower team we saw run roughshod over the Citrus Belt League, but it certainly was a team that deserved to be in the big game against the 16-time CIF large-schools champions.
It might have been even closer, except for some weirdness at the 2:52 mark of the fourth quarter, when the officials called a ticky-tack flagrant foul on Perry after ignoring a more egregious flagrant foul on Poly. Johnson then fairly lost his mind, berating an official with such persistence that he was hit with a technical.
Poly shot four free throws, made two to go up 56-41, and got the ball, and fans began streaming for the exits.
Make no mistake, the better team Saturday night won. But Eisenhower won't be able to help but wonder "what if?" it had started playing from the opening tipoff. Eight minutes of infamy. It might be hard to forget.
Oberjuerge is sports editor of The Sun. Readersmay write him at 399 North D St., San Bernardino, 92401, or e-mail him at email@example.com
The final take on the game appeared in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin's Prep section today, written by Aaron Mendonca, one of the paper's staff writers:
Ike's dreams dashed
By AARON MENDONCA
ANAHEIM -- Eisenhower's dream of the first CIF boys basketball title in school history quickly turned into a nightmare.
The Eagles (27-3) suffered through a horrid first half and fell 64-53 to Long Beach Poly in the CIF-Southern Section Division 1AA finals before 7,845 fans at The Pond.
Practically the only thing the Eagles did do right in the first half was win the opening tip, which they promptly turned over.
That would become a recurring theme for Eisenhower, which turned the ball over nine times in the opening period, many of which were unforced.
The Jackrabbits (28-3) didn't waste anytime taking advantage of the Eagles' charity and led by 10, 15-5, when Reggie Butler slammed home an alley-oop pass to end the quarter.
Eisenhower shot a horrendous 3-for-15 from the free-throw line in the first half, including the first nine of the game.
Eisenhower's Cory McJimson was the main culprit, missing his first seven free throws and finishing 3-of-13 from the line.
The second quarter saw more of the same as the Eagles fumbled away passes and rebounds and the Jackrabbits ran the lead to 31-17 at the break.
"In the first half, we just came out not ready to play,'' Eagles coach Steve Johnson said. "If we had made some more free throws and if we could have took better care of the ball we would have been right there."
Johnson didn't chalk up his team's jittery first half to intimidation by Poly, but to nerves.
"I think playing in this big arena and in front of this big crowd got our guys a little nervous," Johnson said. "We shouldn't have been intimidated by Poly. We've played them before this year."
Sean Marshall, the Eagles' leading scorer, was MIA in the first half. He finished with no field goals and just two points in the half.
He did end up with 21 points, but his team was well out of it by that point.
"I think they made a concerted effort to keep the ball out of his hands in the first half. In the second he got some better looks when we were able to get up the court a little more," Johnson said.
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