Long Beach Poly’s boys’ basketball team has had some ups and downs this season, and they helped prepare the Jackrabbits for their CIF-SS Division 1 playoff opener at home Wednesday night against Crossroads. The Jackrabbits lost their lead in the fourth quarter but battled back in an impressive win, 66-60.
Poly will be on the road Friday against the No. 2 seed in Division 1, Riverside Poly.
“In almost every game we’ve lost this year, we’ve had a lead and lost it,” said Poly coach Shelton Diggs. “Tonight we saw that we know how to fight back, we lost our lead and we didn’t get frustrated, they kept fighting and they got it done.”
The Jackrabbits trailed 21-12 early in the second quarter before star junior Peyton Watson scored eight quick points. The Jackrabbits took the lead midway through the third quarter and had it until midway through the fourth, when a 50-45 lead was erased by a 10-0 run from Crossroads. The Jackrabbits responded impressively, with an 8-0 run of their own that put them back in control of the game.
The strategy offensively consisted of getting other players besides Watson involved. Sure enough, Poly got eight points from Wendell Caldwell in the first quarter, and three huge 3-pointers from sophomore Gabe Cummings. Point guard Anthony Robinson had 11 points, including a three and a layup in the fourth quarter during that pivotal 8-0 run. Chris Watson had 10 points as well.
“I thought everyone was locked in from the start,” said Peyton Watson. “In the playoffs we have to be really disciplined. A lot of teams lock in on me and we need to get everyone involved like we did tonight.”
The other aspect of the Jackrabbits’ gameplan was attacking sophomore center Henri Adiassa, who they successfully kept on the sideline in foul trouble for most of the game.
“We let them play at times during the regular season, trying to make sure guys got confidence and experience,” said Diggs. “I told them the playoffs are different, there’s a detailed scout and they’ve got to follow it and trust me to put them in a position to succeed–they executed really well tonight.”
Crossroads was led by Brendan Terry’s 17 points.