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ERIC SONDHEIMER / ON HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL

Long Beach Poly defeats Etiwanda, 66-63, in regional

The Jackrabbits survive a three-point attempt by Etiwanda's Jordan Daniels at the buzzer to pull out a victory in the Southern California Division I boys' basketball regionals.

March 10, 2011|Eric Sondheimer
  • Long Beach Poly's Alexis Moore drives through the Etiwanda defense on his way to the basket during the Jackrabbits' 66-63 victory in the second round of the Southern California Division I regional quarterfinals on Thursday.
Long Beach Poly's Alexis Moore drives through the Etiwanda defense… (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles…)

High school basketball

Section commissioners might want to stick to deciding eligibility questions instead of seeding teams based on their less-than-impressive showing in drawing up the bracket for Southern California Division I boys' basketball regionals.

Usually, seedings are designed to protect the No. 1-seeded team, but they didn't do any favors for Long Beach Poly. It's almost as if a gantlet has been set up trying to knock the Jackrabbits from their perch as the No. 1 team in the state.

Why Poly (31-1) was forced to face its nemesis, Etiwanda (29-4), on Thursday night in a second-round playoff game remains baffling.

The game turned out as competitive as expected. Poly survived a three-point attempt by Jordan Daniels at the buzzer to pull out a 66-63 victory at Long Beach City College.

"I want everybody to know if we get to the state game and win, we'll be a true state champion because we would have beaten everybody," Coach Sharrief Metoyer said.

If Poly is the No. 1 team in the state as everyone seems to think, then Etiwanda isn't far behind. They've played four times in the last two years, and each one has been a grueling affair.

"I told their coach I don't want to see them for three years," Metoyer said. "The rivalry has been a great one."

Poly held a 14-point lead going into the fourth quarter and was doing something rare for the Jackrabbits. They were making free throws. They converted 19 of 20 free throws until missing four in a row in the final 30 seconds. Etiwanda mounted a furious comeback and pulled to within 65-63 with 11 seconds left on two free throws by Daniels.

Ryan Anderson of Poly made a free throw with nine seconds left. Etiwanda had a chance to tie, but Daniels' shot missed.

"It seems every time we have success, it has to go through Etiwanda," Anderson said.

Alexis Moore scored 17 points, Anderson 16 and Alex Carmon 14. Byron Wesley had 18 points and Tyler LaCour 17 for Etiwanda. Emotions stayed high throughout. Two Etiwanda players picked up technicals, and Moore fouled out in the fourth quarter when he got a technical for celebrating after making a three-pointer.

"They fought and battled and left it on the floor," Etiwanda Coach Dave Kleckner said of his team.

Kleckner expressed his wrath at the section commissioners, saying, "I think we deserved the opportunity to play and work through the lower bracket. I think they did our team injustice."

No. 2-seeded Corona Centennial received 38 points from Gelaun Wheelwright to defeat Westchester, 68-57. The Huskies will host No. 3 Woodland Hills Taft on Saturday. Taft defeated La Costa Canyon, 65-43. C.J. Blackwell had 20 points and 17 rebounds, and Spencer Dinwiddie had 16 points and eight assists.

The question is whether Thursday's Poly-Etiwanda game was for a trip to Sacramento.

Asked whether any team is going to beat Poly, Kleckner said, "No."

Next up for the Jackrabbits is a Saturday semifinal game against Santa Ana Mater Dei at Long Beach City College.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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