Neither Long Beach Poly nor Compton’s boys’ basketball teams had played a competitive game together in more than a year, and it showed on the floor in the first half of both teams’ season opener. The Jackrabbits were able to shake off the rust and defeat their longtime Moore League rivals, 62-36.
“The first half felt like a summer league game, and it kind of was,” said Poly coach Shelton Diggs. “It was the first time we’ve played, we’ve only had a few weeks of practice–so it was one pass, shot, one pass, drive. The second half our defense got a lot better.”
Compton outscored the Jackrabbits in the first half 24-21, as Poly and McDonald’s All-American Peyton Watson struggled to get the ball in the hoop. Coming out of the locker room Poly played a much more focused brand of defense and outscored Compton 41-12 to take control of the game.
“We’ve only had a few practices together and I think everyone was just so anxious to get out and play,” said Watson, who led all scorers with 20 points and added four blocks.
Watson and younger brother Christian Watson led the way for Poly, with Peyton scoring 20 and Chris scoring 16. The Jackrabbits also got strong efforts from Rafael Cruz and Gabe Cummings, and looked impressive despite missing key contributors in Pepperdine signee Jalen Pitre and Lorenzo Marsh, both of whom had to sit for one game after transferring into Poly. Both will be available for Poly’s Friday game against Jordan and the rest of the season.
Compton was playing shorthanded with just seven players available, and head coach Tony Thomas said he was pleased with his team’s effort in the first half. Compton was led by Patrick Johnson, who had 17 points. Compton will face Lakewood on Friday.