By Fred Altieri
The 2013-14 season ended for the Culver City High boys basketball team on their home court in Del Goodyear Gymnasium as they fell to third seeded Westlake High, 76-68, in the second round of the CIF Southern Section playoffs Tuesday night.
The visiting Warriors had just enough in reserve to withstand several late game surges by the Centaurs who could never quite grab the reins and the lead.
Westlake took a quick 12-4 lead. Culver tied the score, 16-16, by the end of the first quarter with a 12-4 run of their own. That set the pattern for the rest of the game. The hometown fans, led by the always energetic Centaur cheer teams, were loud and supportive and they had hope. On this evening no one left the bleachers or building early.
Culver head coach Adam Eskridge, who scouted Westlake last Friday with a few of his players, liked his team’s chances: “We got a real good scout on them. They’re a big team and they’re skilled. But as I sat there and watched, I liked the matchup. I saw ways that we match up with them. Whether that translates to Tuesday night, we’ll see.”
The starting Culver senior five: Chris Edwards, Armani Nicolis, Wes Dixon, Isaac Girley and David Handler were perhaps playing the last game of their high school careers and as expected they put it all on the line. The intensity and level of execution remained when the reserves were brought into the mix: seniors Jordan Williams and Kevin Beacham and sophomores Jailon Bates and Kyle Johnson.
The Warriors started the second quarter with another burst only to have Culver reduce the lead to 27-25. Westlake was not happy leading by only six points at halftime 42-36. The pattern continued. With 2:31 remaining in the quarter the deficit was reduced to two points, 49-47. The fourth quarter began with Culver only down 54-49.
Eskridge talked about spirited practices during the week. “The practices during the week went really well. They practiced hard and with a lot of passion. I think the three guys we brought up from J.V. really helped with that. You could feel that new life, that we were given a second chance.
“They’re in the playoffs and they were working as hard as they could to make the most of it. The guys were intense and really getting after each other.”
The Warriors tried to slam the door shut numerous times during the fourth quarter to no avail. They took leads of 61-51 and 68-55. But the Centaurs never quit and applied a furious challenge. They trailed only 73-68 but now had to foul as the clock slowly ticked away the final seconds. Westlake took a big sigh of relief as they went to the free-throw line and with it the Centaurs’ season.