SANTA ANA — All Buena Park High School's basketball team had to do was survive two frantic Loara comeback attempts and 41 points by Tes Whitlock to reach the championship game of the Carl's Jr. Century basketball tournament against El Modena tonight at Century High School.
The Coyotes weathered the pressure of Loara's full-court defense to escape with a 72-70 victory over the Saxons. They'll meet El Modena, which earned a surprisingly easy 76-56 victory over Fullerton in Friday night's other semifinal.
Whitlock didn't have one of his better shooting games, hitting 14 of 35 attempts, but when he did get hot, it made the Coyotes squirm.
Buena Park (8-4) stifled Loara with its zone in the first half and took a 42-30 lead before the Saxons came storming back with a 13-0 blitz at the start of the third quarter and took a 43-42 lead on Whitlock's two free throws.
Buena Park settled down behind the floor play of Prentice Johnson, who led Coyote scorers with 31 points, and built a 62-52 lead with 6 minutes 12 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
Loara (6-7) once again came back and closed to within 70-68 on Whitlock's steal and spectacular slam dunk and free throw with 56 seconds left. But Johnson hit a 10-footer with 28 seconds left and the Coyotes managed to preserve the victory. Angel Barrios also aided the Coyotes with 27 points.
El Modena's height advantage and shooting of Bob Baytosh (19) and Mike Terry (13) led the Vanguards (8-5) to a one-sided victory over Fullerton's Indians in the other championship semifinal. Craig Olson led the Indians with 15 points.
In a consolation semifinal:
Westminster 64, Cypress 49--Jesse Gomez scored 28 points and Chris Rae added 10 points to lead the Lions over the Centurions. Courtney Smalley led Cypress in scoring with 17 points.
In a fifth-place semifinal game:
Foothill 77, Newport Harbor 63--Sean Amos scored 29 points, Matt Vandrey had 21 and Nick Konopisos 19 to lead Foothill (4-8). Huy Nguyen scored 32 points for Newport Harbor.