By Luke Wilson
La Habra Journal
The Whittier Christian Heralds advanced to the finals of the annual Leon Davis Classic on Tuesday night for the third straight year after riding a dominant first quarter to a 56-42 win over Western High School.
The Heralds started with a 10-0 run. Three steals over that span helped them get out and run the fast break, allowing them to extend an early lead.
“We knew we could jump on this team early,” said Herald forward Noah Evans, “We tried to do everything we could to get out to a fast start after a slow start last night.”
Whittier Christian Head Coach Sherwin Durham echoed the sentiment. “We came out with a lot of energy. I think these kids really wanted to get to the finals and now we have to finish the job.”
Western began making adjustments early to combat the slow start. Even after quickly subbing four players, and resorting to a full-court press early on, the Pioneers couldn’t get anything started in the first quarter. After eight minutes, the score was 18-2 Whittier Christian.
The high-octane scoring continued for the Heralds in the second quarter. Led by Evans and Forward Justin Osborn, Whittier Christian extended their lead to 32-12 at the end of the first half. Between Evans heating up from 3-point land, and Osborn leaking out in transition, Western couldn’t spark any sort of a run.
When the second half began, it was clear that the Pioneers wouldn’t allow a start similar to the first half. While they weren’t able to do a lot in the third quarter to slow down the Heralds, they did get their offense going with some key 3-pointers and some well-earned free throws. After a high scoring third quarter, the score was 53-28 Whittier Christian.
The fourth quarter was where the Pioneers began their comeback. Starting with a 7-0 run, Western did everything they could to get baskets inside and draw fouls to close the gap. Weathering the storm with some clutch aid from Guard Christian Alvis-Labadie, Whittier Christian was able to hold onto the lead to earn their tenth win of the young season and officially punch their ticket to a third straight Leon Davis Classic Finals appearance.
Memories of last season’s Leon Davis Classic conclusion are still fresh in the Heralds’ minds. In their repeat finals appearance, the Heralds were defeated, and they are determined to do things differently this time around.
“We’ve got to stay focused,” said Coach Durham, “We’ve got to finish our mission and do what we came to accomplish tomorrow.”
The finals of the Leon Davis Classic will pit the Heralds against the Buena Park Coyotes who come into the game holding a 10-2 record.