Bryan Alberts of Sun Valley Village Christian is 6 feet 5, 195 pounds and plays basketball with the physicality of a football player.
He used his strength, aggressiveness and passion to take charge of Wednesday night's Division V state playoff game, finishing with 28 points to help the Crusaders come away with a 60-51 victory over Flintridge Prep at the Master's College.
Flintridge Prep made seven three-pointers in the first quarter among its 11 baskets to take a 30-22 lead. But the Rebels made only five baskets the rest of the game.
Robert Cartwright of Flintridge Prep scored 19 points and kept looking to get teammates involved in the offense with his passing, but the shots just wouldn't fall.
That left an opening for Alberts, whose ability to muscle his way inside on drives made a huge difference.
"I saw I was stronger than them and was going to take it to them," Alberts said.
Said Cartwright: "He played really well. I was impressed."
Alberts and Cartwright are junior guard standouts in Division V likely to be playing college basketball in 2014. They were guarding each other at times. But in the end, Flintridge Prep couldn't find its shooting touch after a first quarter in which Jedrick Eugenio made four three-pointers.
These two teams were expected to play in the Southern Section 5AA playoffs, but both were eliminated in the semifinals. Their intensity level was high throughout.
Village Christian advances to a second-round game on Saturday against View Park Prep.