Culver Boys Beat Beverly Hills, Take First Place
February 2, 2018
Home sweet home. Culver City High is flying high and in sole possession of first place in Ocean League boys basketball.
After a gut-checking 71-69 victory over visiting league-power Beverly Hills High on January 24 the Centaurs used a balanced attack to shut down the visiting El Segundo High Eagles, 74-38, two nights later to consolidate their 6-0 league record.
The Centaurs relied on the dominating play from their two big men and strong team support to smother a late Beverly rally in the 2018 league game of the year to date.
Seniors Tevian Jones and Cyrus Johnson combined for 54 total points and 14 total rebounds to offset a 33-point fourth onslaught by the second place Normans (5-1).
Culver had a 47-36 lead after three quarters when Beverly mounted their comeback. Jones scored 34 points including 18 in the final quarter when he converted all 13 of his free-throws to successfully counter Beverly slowing the game clock in the closing minutes with multiple fouls. Johnson dominated the boards on both ends of the court and scored with tough inside play against an aggressive Norman front line.
Jones was an athletic force on the court and his clutch free throws continually gave the Centaurs that small buffer the Normans would never overcome. Culver head coach Reggie Morris called timeout when Beverly cut the lead to 60-57 with 2:46 remaining in the game. Johnson responded with a short turn-around jumper in the paint on an assist from senior Jaylen Cross.
The Normans retaliated with a three-pointer to cut the lead to 62-60 and actually had a chance to tie the score but failed to convert from the free throw line. Morris called another timeout with 1:09 remaining. Centaur sophomore Keith Dinwiddie then hit two free throws for a 64-60 lead. Six more Jones free throws gave Culver a 70-64 insurmountable lead with 10 seconds remaining.
Absolutely the key statistic in the victory: the Centaurs converted 23 of 24 free throws. The Centaurs were most effective scoring around the paint by converting 62% of two-point attempts, hitting 18 of 29 shots. Freshman Tsalta Wainwright, Dinwiddie and Cross and scored five points each while senior Brandon Libertore added two with a nice rebound and put-back off the glass in the second half.
The Centaurs increased the use of the bench in their home win over El Segundo on Friday at Del Goodyear Gymnasium. A total of 11 players saw action against the Eagles. El Segundo jumped out to a surprising 19-14 lead after the first quarter.
Culver jump-started its defense and increased the scoring to take a 31-24 lead at half. The Eagles were held to five points in the second quarter and also the third quarter as the Centaurs poured in 23 points for the quarter to seal the game.
Jones and Wainwright led in scoring with 14 points each. Dinwiddie and Johnson also scored in double figures with 10 points each. Senior Chris Zelaya, junior Ryan Blackmon, and sophomore Tyler Wiley each scored six points. Cross added four, senior Ryan Willoughby three points while senior Justin Schenk converted a free throw to round out the scoring.
The 13-8 Centaurs are enjoying rarefied air being in first place midway through the league season. It certainly hasn't happened in this century. Current Ocean League standings: Culver City 6-0; Beverly Hills 5-1; Santa Monica 4-2; Lawndale 2-4; El Segundo 1-5 and Hawthorne 0-6.
The Culver City boys have three key league games remaining in the next two weeks before the CIF Playoffs begin. Appropriate is a return match in the final game on the road against a dangerous Beverly team on February 8 at 7:30 p.m., guaranteed to be looking for revenge on their home court.