Sports

Herald boys take out Norwalk to advance in Leon Davis Classic

By Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

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After a sluggish first quarter, the Whittier Christian boys basketball team increased its intensity around the basket, leading to a 48-39 home win over Norwalk in pool play of the Leon Davis Classic at Whittier Christian High.

The Heralds struggles produced just four first quarter points in what Head Coach Sherwin Durham believed was nerves in front of a good-sized home crowd.

“It’s tough to play at home when you expect a nice crowd and you have early game jitters,” Durham said. “I think the kids tried to play too hard, sometimes you get over-pumped for a game and I think that effected us.”

Tyler Chacon scored 11 points in his first start since suffering an ankle injury, Dec. 11. Ryan Esslinger matched that total and the duo got help from Blake Coleman and Noah Evans with seven points each.

However, the team struggled to establish themselves early as Norwalk jumped to a 9-4 first-quarter lead and out-rebounded the Heralds 12-6 in the opening quarter.

Whittier Christian would soon put the pieces together and midway through the second quarter, a 12-2 run aided the Heralds in taking the lead at the 4:02 mark of the second quarter.

The Heralds would not give the lead back from that point and further separated itself from the Lancers when Chacon hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give his team a 20-13 halftime advantage.

Defensive pressure helped the Heralds force nine Norwalk turnovers in the third quarter, but the Lancers maintained the seven-point deficit until Jason Hoogsteen hit a 3-pointer and followed it with a buzzer-beating jumper to push Whittier Christian’s lead to 12 points.

Despite being outscored in the fourth quarter, Whittier Christian got five points from Evans and four from Esslinger down the stretch to seal the nine-point victory.

“That’s what we want to do [attack the basket],” Durham said. “Our perimeter shots are not falling for us right now, but if we play inside out, we should get a lot of easier looks and start knocking down those shots. It worked out for us tonight.”

Hoogsteen and Esslinger led the team with five rebounds apiece, while Coleman and Chacon blocked two shots each.

In the loss, Rashaad Perry recorded a double-double for Norwalk with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Alex Vidana added 11 points and six rebounds.

Both teams struggled from the floor throughout the game, with Norwalk shooting 30.6 percent from the floor, while Whittier Christian shot just 25.3 percent.

The Heralds made 4-of-17 attempts from 3-point range.

Durham also made three changes to the starting lineup, adding that he wanted to put some of his kids in different roles and see encouragement from the bench.

Whittier Christian will take on Amino South Los Angeles Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Whittier Christian High.

Started in 1995, the La Habra Journal is an independent community news source serving the cities of La Habra and La Habra Heights.