Following Tuesday afternoon's game against Chatsworth High, San Fernando Coach Dick Crowell said, "We have a slogan on our team this year: Our defense is our offense."
The Tigers' defense forced 23 turnovers and their offense got 18 points from junior Sean Declouet to defeat Chatsworth, 61-50, at San Fernando.
The win gave San Fernando (7-2 in league, 9-9 overall) a second-place finish behind undefeated Granada Hills in the Northwest Valley League. The Tigers play Canoga Park tonight in a makeup game at San Fernando.
Chatsworth and Birmingham are in a tie for third place, both with 5-5 records. The teams play tonight at a neutral gym to break the deadlock. The winner will face Marshall, seeded No. 1, on Friday night.
Most of the Chatsworth turnovers resulted from a full-court trapping defense by San Fernando. Chatsworth threw the ball away numerous times once it had gotten past the half-court line as well.
"We just didn't play real smart," Chatsworth Coach Gary Shair said. "They're a very physical team."
According to Crowell, the Tigers are just now hitting their peak.
"The kids have really come together as a team," he said. "They like each other and play well together."
San Fernando raced to a nine-point lead with a minute left in the first quarter. Two minutes earlier, the Tigers embarked on a 10-1 run that broke open an 8-8 tie. San Fernando center Shelton Boykin grabbed two offensive rebounds in the run, converting them into four points.
The 6-4 junior finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The Tigers never relinquished the lead, increasing it to 16 points midway through the fourth quarter.
Declouet was 9 for 15 from the field, most coming from the 25-foot range, scoring at least four points in each quarter.
"Declouet was on today," Crowell said. "He's starting to know when to shoot and when not to."
Forward Reggie Prince scored 12 points and Oliver Mathews added 10 for San Fernando.
Neal Coffman and Raphael Tulino each had 12 points to lead the Chancellors. Tulino also had seven rebounds.
San Fernando led at halftime, 31-23. Although Chatsworth scored 18 points in the fourth quarter, its best period of the game, it wasn't able to recover from its nine-point third quarter.