Long Beach Poly got the same result they’ve been anticipating this entire Moore League season against Lakewood on Wednesday night, but they also got something more–a test. The high-powered Jackrabbits (5-0) have been dispatching opponents with ease since their opening half against Compton, but Lakewood (3-3, 3-2) gave the Jackrabbits a run in the third quarter before Poly ultimately pulled away for an 88-62 win.
“We needed it after the 40-point blowouts,” said Poly head coach Shelton Diggs of Lakewood hanging with Poly for a solid chunk of the game. “We needed a game where they gave us a little punch and push and we had to push back. I’m very happy with how we responded. We’re just trying to get better every single day, so we’re gonna make mistakes, and we made some and the other team was able to come back. But we calmed down, got it together, and figured iit out from there, so I was happy.”
With star senior Peyton Watson sitting out as a precaution prior to the Iverson Classic next week, younger brother Christian Watson took up the scoring mantle capably for the Jackrabbits. The junior guard had 26 points and seven rebounds to help lead Poly to the win. Watson came out trying to establish himself early, netting Poly’s first six points of the night. He shared his coach’s sentiment about having to fight a little harder for the victory.
“It was good to get tested,” Watson admitted. “I liked the way our guys fought today. We played defense and stayed with it throughout all four quarters and we got it done.”
Watson certainly wasn’t the only player lighting it up offensively for the Jackrabbits. Senior Lorenzo Marsh had 22 points for Poly and senior Jalen Pitre added 16 points and seven rebounds. Junior Marcel Hayes looked good for Poly as well, chipping in 11 points in extended minutes on Wednesday.
Lakewood was led by senior guard Jalen Shores who had a team-high 24 points. Sophomore guard Chris Willis added 16 and classmate Mason Pacheco scored a dozen. The Lancers were also a bit short-handed on Wednesday, playing without do-it-all junior forward Corali’i Mila.
Poly came out of the gates quickly with an 8-0 run, but Lakewood was unfazed and quickly tied the game up at 10-apiece on a Willis three-pointer. The Jackrabbits responded in a big way, going on a 20-5 run that stretched into the middle of the second quarter, and Poly would hold a 44-28 lead at halftime.
Marsh and Watson scored the first two buckets of the second half, but that’s when Lakewood made its move. The Lancers went on a 17-4 run in the third quarter to cut Poly’s lead to 52-45 with three minutes left in the quarter. They would never get any closer, however, as the Jackrabbits ended the third on a 17-5 run and extended their advantage to 76-52 early in the fourth to put the game out of reach.
Both teams are back in action on Friday with Poly hosting Wilson and Lakewood hosting Millikan.
Wilson 60, Millikan 42
The Bruins have two league losses but stayed firmly in the playoff picture after a comfortable win on the road over Millikan. Wilson was led by Cole Walker (12 points), Dallas Cooper (11 points), and Tommy O’Toole (10 points). Kamaury Washington led Millikan with 17 points. Wilson will travel to Long Beach Poly on Friday while Millikan will visit Lakewood.