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Tape Replaces Big Man in Esperanza's Victory


For one night at least, Esperanza's big man wasn't missed because for most of Friday's game against Rialto Eisenhower, it seemed as if the Aztecs couldn't miss.

Pumped by 29 points from senior forward Lohnnie Tape, Esperanza played like the division's second-seeded team, blasting the Eagles, 74-47, to move into Tuesday's second round against Glendale Hoover, a 76-65 winner over Agoura.

No one, most of all Coach Mark Hill, knew how Esperanza (24-3) would come out Friday after losing Josh Greer, the team's leading scorer and rebounder, for the season after Greer broke his right foot last week.

But the Aztecs made seven of their first 11 shots--five of six from three-point range--to blow out to a 21-12 lead. Tape was the catalyst, scoring 12 points in the quarter and blocking two shots.

Esperanza finished with 22-of-40 shooting.

"I felt like I had to take the weight with Josh out," Tape said. "I did it last year when he got hurt. Coach expected me to make shots and rebound. And, as a team, we knew we had to come out hard from the beginning. We can't let teams hang around."

"Many of the kids had good games," Hill said. "But Lohnnie really stepped up tonight. He didn't want this to be his last game. I hope that continues on Tuesday."

Eisenhower (15-12), the third-place team the Citrus Belt League, has thrown its share of scares into top teams, including Long Beach Jordan, Fontana and Riverside J.W. North. But the Eagles were never in Friday's game because they shot poorly, missing 32 of 46 shots from the floor.

Their leading scorer, senior guard Jerald Gibbs, had the kind of night that was typical for Eisenhower. Gibbs missed his first five shots, made four straight, then missed his next five. He scored 15 points, but finished five of 19.

Contrast that with Tape, who was nine of 13 from the field (and nine of 10 from the free-throw line).

Down, 36-19, at the half, Eisenhower rallied briefly in the third quarter, drawing within 42-33 with 1:16 to play. But a three-pointer by Matt Munson--one of seven by Esperanza in the game--at the buzzer pushed Esperanza's lead back to 49-35.

"They're good," Eisenhower Coach Steve Johnson said of Esperanza. "They got ahead so quickly, hitting shots from all over the place, we just didn't recover. We're an outside shooting team, and obviously we didn't have a very good night."

In other games:

Los Alamitos 67, Arcadia 62--Los Alamitos led by one to start the fourth quarter, then outscored visiting Arcadia, 22-18. Chris Glass had 21 points, including three three-pointers, and six assists and Cory Johnson added 15 points for Los Alamitos (20-6), which next plays Upland, a 76-65 winner over San Gabriel.

Palmdale Highland 90, Santa Ana Valley 72--John Burrell scored 33 points for host Highland (17-9). Ike Harmon scored 36 points and Olujimi Mann 21 for Santa Ana Valley (10-16).

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