St. Bernard High's basketball team again was missing a big part of the puzzle Saturday night, but the smaller pieces fell into place quite nicely.
The top-seeded Vikings used quickness and defensive pressure to overwhelm Palos Verdes, 69-53, in the championship game of the 36th annual Pacific Shores Basketball Tournament at Redondo.
After St. Bernard went 4-0 in the tournament, the question is how good will the team be when 6-10 center Ed Stokes returns to the lineup. Stokes has yet to play because of tendinitis of the hip.
"I don't know how good we can be," Coach Jim McClune said. "We've never had everyone together, not even in the summer. But I know that having a 6-10 athlete has got to help."
St. Bernard wasn't in need of Stokes on Saturday night. Senior forward Eric Nelson, the tournament's Most Valuable Player, scored a game-high 20 points to lead a balanced attack, and the Vikings' full-court press contributed to 19 turnovers by Palos Verdes (3-1).
"Their overall quickness and defensive pressure kept us out of sync all night," said Palos Verdes Coach John Mihaljevich. "I was disappointed in our inability to handle their full-court press.
"They get a turnover and they do a good job of capitalizing on it."
St. Bernard took command of the game in the third quarter by extending a one-point half-time lead into a 48-38 advantage. Guard Aron Williams scored seven of his 11 points in the period on close-range shots.
The Vikings then blew it open in the early minutes of the fourth quarter, scoring 10 of the first 12 points to take a 58-40 lead. Palos Verdes' comeback effort was hurt by 10 turnovers in the second half, six in the final quarter.
Junior forward Juno Armstrong added 17 points for St. Bernard, which plays in the seven-team Loyola Tournament next week. Forward Damon Woodruff and point guard Keith Brown, who did an efficient job of running the team, were selected for all-tournament honors.
Palos Verdes was led by seniors Mike Matteoni and Jeff Whitley with 18 and 15 points, respectively. Whitley and point guard John Mika, who was held to seven points, were named all-tournament.
Carson 63, Inglewood 62--Forward Damon Estell hit a 17-foot jump shot from the base line with one second remaining in the second overtime to lift the Colts (3-1) in the third-place game.
Inglewood (2-2), which had rallied from a nine-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter, got an impressive effort from junior forward Harold Miner, who had 39 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. Miner's five-foot shot at the buzzer tied the game, 60-60, in the first overtime.
It was the second dramatic shot of the game. Carson's Raymond Bennett had sent the game into overtime on a three-point basket with five seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Culver City 77, West Torrance 71--Senior guard Steve Jeter scored 19 of his game-high 32 points in the second half to help the Centaurs (3-1) come from behind to win the fifth-place final.
West Torrance (2-2) enjoyed a 39-28 half-time lead, but the Warriors cooled off in the second half. Senior forward Tim Stowe led West with 26 points. He only scored seven in the second half.
Rolling Hills 70, Redondo 57--Junior forward John Hardy scored a game-high 27 points to lead the Titans (3-1) to the consolation title over Redondo (2-2).
Rolling Hills, last year's Pacific Shores champion, won three consecutive games after losing the opener to West Torrance on a last-second basket. Senior forward Stu Talley added 13 points for the Titans, who played a strong game on the offensive boards.