Heralds spread the wealth in win, Lady Heralds fall short against Ontario Christian
by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal
Playing less than 24 hours after a crucial league game at home, the Whittier Christian boys’ basketball team showed no signs of fatigue in a 52-33 nonleague victory over Ontario Christian, Saturday night at Whittier Christian High.
In hopes of getting everyone involved and fine tuning before an important league game on Tuesday, the Heralds spread the ball and saw balanced scoring across the board.
Knowing that the Knights had a tendency to take shots from beyond the arc, the Heralds tightened up their perimeter defense and forced Ontario Christian to try its luck inside.
Whittier Christian’s big men didn’t allow much in the first half, holding the Knights to 17 points.
“We knew that if we took their three top scorers away, they were going to have a tough time scoring,” said Sherwin Durham, Whittier Christian head coach. “Pressuring the perimeter was part of our game plan as well. We really felt we had a good game plan going in as far as running them off the three.”
Christian Alvis-Labadie cut through Ontario Christian’s defense for layups and finished with a team-high 13 points.
Shawn Stolt hit all four of his shots from the field and finished with nine points. Ryan Esslinger and Jake Rivera added eight points each.
The Heralds (15-7) shared the ball efficiently from the start to take a 19-9 lead after the opening quarter.
Esslinger led the charge with six points, while Alvis-Labadie and Rivera added four points each.
“In our system, we don’t have a main guy, but we have guys that step up,” Durham said. “Every night, it could be a different guy. In our system, everyone can get shots. Our balance tonight was a good indication that we shared the basketball. Ball movement was one of our keys tonight.”
The Heralds continued to break away in the third quarter with the starters in. Stolt got going in the low post with a pair of turn-around jumpers, while Alvis-Labadie slashed through the defense for a layup from the right side and hit a 3-pointer later in the quarter.
Taking a 44-28 lead into the fourth quarter, Whittier Christian again put in reserves to close out the game.
The Heralds defense allowed three 3-pointers in the first half, but not much else as the inside presence of Stolt, Rivera, Stephen Nolin and Jimmy West caused fits for the Knights interior offense.
Point guard Tyus Dennis led the Knights with 17 points, which included five 3-pointers, three of which were made in the second half with the Heralds already out to a big lead.
Ontario Christian (13-6) made just five shots from within the 3-point line.
The Heralds, who have won 11 of their last 14 games, will head back into league play for a crucial road game at Maranatha, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
“Even the loss against Village, we’ve really been building that confidence,” Durham said. “That showed that we really trust each other and we picked right back up and got on the winning track. We’re coming to the gym and we’re thinking victories, playing together as a unit and we’re going to carry that over into Tuesday and see what happens.”
The second time around was not as kind for the Whittier Christian girls’ basketball team in a 40-37 loss to Ontario Christian, Saturday afternoon at home.
In December, the Lady Heralds bullied Ontario Christian on its home floor in the championship game of the OC Knight Time Classic.
The Lady Knights (15-5) made adjustments and also took advantage of a flat and fatigued Lady Heralds squad.
At different points throughout the game, the Lady Heralds rushed shots and were a step slower than Ontario Christian.
Whittier Christian (12-9) was playing its second game in less than 24 hours.
However, at times it appeared the Lady Heralds would muster the strength to overtake the lead.
After guard Tiffany Bogea led the Lady Knights to a 19-6 lead, the Lady Heralds, led by Sydney Lopez’ seven second-quarter points, went on a 13-2 run to close the deficit to 21-19 at halftime.
Lopez scored 13 of her team-high 20 points in the first half. She also came away with 13 rebounds for her sixth consecutive double-double and ninth of the season.
But the team would come out flat again to start the second half, which allowed Ontario Christian to break away in part to a pair of 3-pointers by guard Anna Spykstra.
Megan Cunzi added a pair of baskets in the paint as the Lady Knights led 35-27 going into the final quarter.
For a second time, Lopez tried to lead a comeback late in the half and it nearly worked.
Guard Priscilla Zamorano stepped back and hit a 3-pointer that reduced the deficit to 40-37. However, the Lady Heralds struggled from the field after that point.
Hannah Yoshihara appeared to be hit on the arm as she attempted to tie the score with a 3-pointer at the buzzer, but no foul call was made and Ontario Christian returned a favor that Whittier Christian had given to it during tournament play.
Bogea scored 10 of her team-high 16 points in the first half, while Spykstra scored eight of her 13 points in the second half.
The Lady Heralds will head back into league play with a road game at Maranatha, Tuesday night at 6 p.m.