Boys Clinch basketball Playoff Berth
January 31, 2019
By Fred Altieri
The Culver City High boys basketball team clinched a playoff spot on Tuesday, January 29 by securing third place in the Ocean League for the 2018-19 season. The Centaurs easily overwhelmed Hawthorne High, 78-12, on Senior Night at Del Goodyear Gymnasium to run their league record to 6-3.
"At this point I just want my kids to be mentally focused and to enjoy Senior Night against Hawthorne," said head coach Roy Walker before Tuesday's game. "I just want them to have fun. On Thursday we have to go against that monster at Beverly Hills."
It was the third consecutive win as they ran their overall record to 16-10. The Centaurs snapped a two-game league losing streak when they outlasted Lawndale High, 80-76, last Wednesday on the road. Two nights later they put away stubborn El Segundo, 63-48, at home. Culver City swept their two-game series against both schools this season.
The Centaurs put on a defensive clinic against the Hawthorne Cougars as they held them scoreless in the second and fourth quarters. They led 21-7 after the first quarter before surging to a 50-7 halftime lead. The second half was played with a continuous clock as Culver outscored the Hawthorne 28-5 to end the game.
Kenzi Bishara and Coltrane Mueller led a balanced Centaur attack with 15 points including three 3-pointers each. Tyrese Cross added 13 points on six field goals, Tyler Wiley put in 11 points and a 3-pointer, Shemer Carter scored eight points and Quincy Lawson had six points and a 3-pointer. Sam Chuck scored four points, Sebastian Encarnicion and Mike Bunton each added a field goal.
But it's the defense that deserves credit for the team's last two wins. "I told my players the biggest thing going into the playoffs is how many stops can we get," said Walker.
"I'm not worried about us scoring the ball. I know they can score the ball when it's time to score. We need to work on getting stops and getting more solid on the defensive end."
The victory at Lawndale was a worthy effort against the relentless Cardinals. The Centaurs trailed by three after the first quarter before taking a 37-31 halftime lead. Wiley got the offense going with 13 points in the third quarter including three 3-pointers as Culver scored 29 points. Quincy had 23 total points for the game.
But the Lawndale responded with 26 points in the third and 19 in the fourth quarter. The game went down to the wire before Wiley converted a free throw late in the game to nail the door shut. Lawson scored 16 points and Amyas Njoku 14 points to keep the Cardinals at bay.
The Centaurs dominated the fourth quarter, 29-8, in their victory over El Segundo on Friday night. The stingy Eagles held the Culver offense to 17 points in the first half to take a five-point lead. That prompted Walker to make the necessary adjustments in the second half.
Walker: "Our kids responded in the third quarter. We were down by nine points in the third and I called time out. We turned it around and cut it to four. Ryan (Blackmon) was amazing in the third and fourth quarters as was Amyas. I can't say enough about both of those two."
"We can get to another level and still have a lot of things to focus on. We're not a finished product but that can be a good thing at this point in time because we can still get better. I want them to get better instinctively and better as a team." Stay tuned. The playoffs are just around the corner.