March Madness came a week early on Friday night in the opening round of the new Southern Section Open Division tournament.
From No. 1-seeded Santa Ana Mater Dei requiring overtime to outlast No. 16 Montebello Cantwell-Sacred Heart, 66-59, to No. 3 Los Angeles Loyola opening a 23-point second-half lead, then barely holding off a frantic comeback by No. 14 Bellflower St. John Bosco, 70-67, it was a wild night for a tournament matching the best against the best in high school basketball.
"It's a big boys tournament," St. John Bosco Coach Derrick Taylor said. "This isn't for the weak of heart."
Loyola (25-2) received 20 points, 20 rebounds and five blocks from UCLA-bound 7-footer Thomas Welsh. The Cubs were cruising going into the fourth quarter, holding a 19-point lead. But then St. John Bosco (17-10) unleashed a full-court press against a team that still hasn't adjusted to the loss of point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright, who's left school.
Tyler Dorsey, who finished with 26 points, connected on consecutive three-pointers, pulling the Braves to within, 68-67, with 12 seconds left.