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ERIC SONDHEIMER / ON HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL

Corona Centennial's Michael Caffey plays through the pain

Saturday's high school basketball Southern California Division I semifinal matchup between Corona Centennial and Woodland Hills Taft will see Centennial point guard Michael Caffey playing with an injured ankle. The other semifinal pits Long Beach Poly against Santa Ana Mater Dei.

March 11, 2011|Eric Sondheimer
  • Corona Centennial point guard Michael Caffey, left, will play in Saturday's Southern California Regional semifinal against Taft even though he's nursing an injured ankle.
Corona Centennial point guard Michael Caffey, left, will play in Saturday's… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

It's the time of year in high school basketball when players are banged up but still find a way to play, and that's what is happening with standout point guard Michael Caffey of Corona Centennial.

He injured his ankle Tuesday night during the Southern California Division I regionals. His coach, Josh Giles, didn't expect him to play Thursday, but Caffey did his best, and now he'll try to keep playing on Saturday in a semifinal showdown with Woodland Hills Taft at 5 p.m. at Corona Roosevelt.

"It's just sore and tender," Giles said. "He's just battling through it. He toughed it out, but he's nowhere near 100%."

Centennial (29-4), seeded No. 2, defeated City Section Division I champion Taft (29-2) on Dec. 29, 61-58. The Huskies rely on their full-court press but have a distinct size disadvantage to the Toreadors.

"We have to work real hard on post defense and rebounding and try to take away the inside as much as possible," Giles said.

Having Gelaun Wheelwright get hot from three-point range would also help. He had 38 points in a quarterfinal win over Westchester.

The other semifinal matches two powerful programs in No. 1 Long Beach Poly (31-1) and No. 4 Santa Ana Mater Dei (29-3) at Long Beach City College at 6 p.m.

Mater Dei is considered the team of the future, with nine of its top 10 players returning next season, but the Monarchs will take a shot at advancing to next Saturday's regional final at USC's Galen Center. Junior Xavier Johnson scored 30 points on Thursday in a 72-70 win over Los Angeles Loyola.

Poly is a veteran team that has been focused on winning a state title for months. Now that the Jackrabbits have eliminated Etiwanda, they will try to use their experienced edge to take out the Monarchs.

In Division III, a top semifinal matches La Verne Lutheran (23-5) and host North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake (29-4). Two of the top junior big men in the Southland will go at it in Lutheran's 6-foot-9 Grant Jerrett and Harvard-Westlake's 6-foot-8 Zena Edosomwan.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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