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Reebok Las Vegas Holiday Prep Classic:
Sylmar Beats Harvard Westlake; Butler--(Dec.23, 1998)

We had to come three hundred miles and stay in the desert to see these two teams go at it. And in the long run, it wasn't much of a real contest as Sylmar handled the Wolverines fairly well, winning 60-46. The Spartans held Russell Lakey to 12 points (he was the high scorer for HW) and the anticipated matchup of the point guards with Lakey going against Brandon Jacobs, never really materialized.  With the win, Sylmar advanced to play Butler, a team from Alabama which had earlier beaten Montclair Prep handily on Monday.  And since Sylmar beat Butler, they got to stick around for an extra day to play in the 11th place game.

In the H-W game yesterday morning, Sylmar came out strong and HW came out flat as Brandon Jacobs scored the first two points. HW's first three possession resulted in turnovers.  Sylmar went to a press early and it worked effectively as George Wrighster, TK Reed and Brandon Jacobs all scored in quick succession, and with only 6 minutes gone in the half, the score was 12-0.

At 12:18 freshman Craig Weinstein came into the game for Todd Kurihawa, who was not having much success, and while Weinstein, a freshman, has a good handle, he didn't have any greater success, taking only one three point attempt in the entire game. Alex Holmes did manage HW's first points in the half, a three-pointer, but Wrighster then picked off an errant pass and fed Brandon Jacobs and Sylmar was up again 13-3.  Joey Youmans banged knees with Alex Holmes, which looked pretty painful and with 10:29 to play, Joey came out and was replaced by Jeremiah Turner.  Holmes sank two from the line, and Lakey managed a couple of layups and suddenly it was looking like a game.  Just as HW looks like they're making a run though, the HW coaches pulled Lakey out, and Sylmar was off to the races again.

Dallas Townsend, who yesterday had a great game, scoring 29 points,  mades a great twisting layup off another HW turnover and managed to bring the score to 15-9. John Valdez of Sylmar, then hit two and a three pointer in rapid fire succession, picked off two errant passes from Weinstein and with Youman back in and plugging up the middle and controlling the first half boards, with 8:14 to play in the first, the score was 20-10. In the next minute, HW commited another two turnovers off of errant passes and Sylmar again capitalized with Townsend scoring again to make it 22-10.  Anthony Naylor, playing in his first game since summer, was fouled on a shot attemp, but missed both shots. Finally at 6:00 Lakey came back in but it wasn't going to stop TK Reid, and he hit for three to make it 25-10 with 5:34 to play.  Sylmar was, at that point, playing "good" but not great team ball; the one problem they were having was that they were picking up fouls like crazy and with  5 minutes to play they had 8 team fouls to HW's one.

Wrighster hit for two again, on a driving, powerful move to the basket, and at 4:30 it's 27-10.  HW turned it over yet again, finally started to play defense and the only result was that they fouled two times quickly sending Jeremiah Turner who hit for two more and with 4:00  to play the score was 29-10.  Lakey came back with a three, his first  make in about 5 shots taken in the first, and it's 32-13.  Lakey took another 3 attempt, missed, and Alex Holmes was fouled, sending him to the line where he made one of two, and it's suddenly 34-14.  Escoto decided to go with some outside shooting and put Alfredo Tovar into the game and he immediately hit a three. Lakey came right back and make a short, twisting layup in the lane and with just 1:44 to play, HW trailed by 20, 27-17.  Hilliard decided to go a bit deeper on the bench and Chad Garson, who has thus far seen limited action in the tournament despite good play, forceds a Sylmar turnover, and then quickly made a layup off a Lakey miss on the transition to conclude the half, and midway through the game it's 37-19.

The big difference in the half was is in rebounding, and Sylmar led on the boards 15-7 at the half, and Alex Holmes has 4 of those seven. In the second half, Lakey came out playing better and harder, and Todd Kurihawa hit for three, but Youmans and Wrighster then went on a scoring spree and after Kurihawa hit another three, Jacobs also scored again to make it 42-27 Sylmar.

Four minutes into the second half  Bort Escoto, Sylmar's coach, mades his first adjustment, putting in Jeremiah Turner, who's first contribution was to let Lakey sneak in for a floater in the lane, but then Alex Holmes committed a foul sending Dallas to the line where he hit one of two. Jeremiah then did what he was supposed to do in the game, hitting  the first and only slam dunk of the game off a Lakey turnover, and with 10:32 to play it was 47-31.  With Lakey struggling, coach Hilliard tried to adjust and he put in Spencer Torgan, Craig Weinstein and Bryan Berkett, at once, but the change in chemistry was anything but good as Turner immediately hit a three and the Wolverines squandered their next two possessions. Berkett finally managed to score, but it was still 50-33 Sylmar.   

HW then went to a flex offense at about 8:00 to play, a very complicated motion, but all it succeeded in doing was making the Wolverines tired, because Sylmar was in a help zone defense, and one thing a flex isn't good against, at least in our humble opinion is a good zone defense.  HW managed to only comes away with two layups, and with 5:28 to play it's 50-37.    Brian Berkett scores a layup off of one of the clearest no-call travels, and with 5:00 to play, HW is coming back, slowly but surely, 50-39.

After a timeout, Slymar ran a back-door play for Jeremiah, and then he grabbed a steal and scored.  With 3:25 to play the score was 56-41 and time was rapidly running out for the Wolverines. Sylmar went to a press but Todd   Kurihawa manages to start to really score, and he hits another two, a pull up jumper from 17', keeping it a 13 point game. But after two more minutes HW has only managed to close the gap by two, to 56-43, when Kelechi Ogbunamani makes a single free throw to make it 56-44 with 1:21 to play . Brandon Jacobs gets yet another steal, and hits a driving layup, and Alfredo Tovar scores another two from the line, and with 28 seconds to play the score is 60-44.  There's a kind of deathly silence in the place as Jeremiah Turner goes to the line, and it seems that  Sylmar and the rest of the crowd just want to get it over with.  Chad Garson, who had been virtually silent during the late minutes of the second half,  hits the final shot of the game, a nice pull up jumper in the lane 10' from the rim, and finally this long-distance matchup ends, 60-46, Sylmar.

Later in the evening, Sylmar played Bulter, a team from Alabama which just hammered Montclair Prep yesterday, but the Spartans won a close one to advance to the 11th place game tomorrow.  We were there to cover that one as well, and here are the stats from both games.

Sylmar 60
Harvard-Westlake 46

Harvard-Westlake (5-5)
Lakey 5-11 1-1 12, Berkett 3-4 0-0 6, Kurihara 3-8 0-0 8, Naylor 1-5 0-2 2, Garson 1-3 0-0 2, Gillig 2-4 0-0 4, Ogbunamari 1-4 1-1 3, Kinzer 0-1 1-2 1, Holmes 2-6 3-5 8.
Sylmar (8-2)
Jacobs 4-10 0-0 9, Townsend 4-7 0-0 8, Slade 1-2 2-2 5, Valdez 2-5 0-0 5, Reed 4-6 1-2 10, Wrightster 3-10 0-1 7, Turner 5-9 2-5 12, Youman 1-8 2-4 4.

Score by halves:
Harvard-Westlake 19 27 Final 46
Sylmar 37 23 Final 60

*********

Sylmar 65
Butler 58

Sylmar(9-2)
Jacobs 3-9 4-4 11, Townsend 5-11 1-2 11, Valdez 3-11 2-5 8, Reed 2-6 0-0 5, Wrighster 2-10 2-5 6, Turner 7-8 0-0 14, Youman 4-11 2-3 10.

Butler (13-3)
Pride 2-8 0-0 6, Harris 1-5 1-1 3, Toney 2-12 0-0 6, Germain 2-6 0-0 4, Williams 3-3 0-0 6, Veasley 5-9 1-2 11, Draper 3-9 0-0 7, Moore 7-9 1-2 15.


Score by halves:
Sylmar 31 34 Final 65
Butler 25 33 Final 58

Later.

The Swish Award
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