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Etiwanda survives a scare by Ventura

The Eagles score with 10 seconds left to defeat the Cougars, 52-51.

January 17, 2011|Eric Sondheimer

"It was a big scare for us."

That was the observation of Etiwanda senior point guard Jordan Daniels on Monday, when the unbeaten Eagles barely survived for a 52-51 victory over Ventura in a Martin Luther King Day showcase at Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos.

Etiwanda (18-0), ranked No. 2 in the Southland by The Times, trailed, 49-44, with 2 1/2 minutes left. The Eagles seemed beaten with 16 seconds left. Ventura (17-2) had possession of the ball, and Etiwanda was trying to foul to force a one-and-one free-throw situation. But then the Eagles forced a held ball, and the possession arrow was in their favor. Evan Jenkins then scored on a layup with 10 seconds left.

Ventura quickly got the ball down court but Dylan Houck missed on a jumper and a tip also failed, and Etiwanda, the prime challenger to Long Beach Poly in Division 1AA, was able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Not that Coach Dave Kleckner was pleased with his players' performance.

"That's the kind of stuff that knocks you out of the playoffs," he said. "These kids control their own destiny. It's on them, not us. If they think that's an acceptable performance, they don't know what it takes."

Ventura, ranked No. 4 in Division 2AA, overcame a 10-0 deficit to start the game. The Cougars matched Etiwanda's man-to-man defense, playing physical and making long-range jumpers. Houck had 14 points and Jon McMurry made four three-pointers.

It was a terrific performance by a Ventura team whose only previous loss had come early in the season to Simi Valley. It showed the Cougars will be able to challenge Huntington Beach Edison and Mission Viejo in the 2AA playoffs if they can play defense like Monday.

As for Etiwanda, perhaps the scare will get the attention of the players. Byron Wesley led the Eagles with 15 points.

Kleckner still likes his team's experience and chemistry but the lesson that needs to be learned is that despite their record, the Eagles have to perform at a high level to beat good teams.

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