Screen Shot 2021-12-11 at 2.22.30 PM
Basketball Long Beach Poly St. Anthony

Basketball: St. Anthony Boys Top Long Beach Poly For City Supremacy

On the one hand, it was a consolation bracket contest in a preseason tournament–a Bosco Winter Classic game that won’t decide a championship or a spot in league standings. But on the other hand, it was deeper than that–St. Anthony facing Long Beach Poly for city supremacy. The Saints prevailed against the Jackrabbits, 53-38.

“Yeah it’s a lot deeper than that, no doubt,” said first-year St. Anthony coach Alan Mitchell. “I’m a Compton guy but I know how important this game is to our kids and to our school, to beat a team like Poly that is one of the most historic programs.”

The game featured two teams both hungry for a win, neither of whom have found their footing offensively yet. The difference for St. Anthony was both their playmakers played strong games, as Elijah Price and Jaayden Bush combined for 40 points. Price, the 6-9 post player, was dominant with 20 points, 17 rebounds, five steals, and three blocks. Bush had 20 points as well. The Saints got just 13 points from the rest of the team but played great defense against the Jackrabbits in the win.


St. Anthony led 16-8, and 24-21 at the half. Bush came alive in the third quarter to put the game away as the Saints outscored Poly 18-8 in that frame, taking a 13-point lead into the fourth quarter.

Price said his team wanted to win the game badly.

“We feel like we’ve been the underdog in Long Beach for so long, we’ve been wanting this one for a minute, and, well, we got it,” he said. “Whenever I play in a game like this where I know there’s nobody my size I go into it thinking I need to dominate.”

His coach said that’s what they’ve been preaching to him all year.

“I want him going into every game thinking it’s time to dominate,” said Mitchell. “He shoots free throws at 85% so he’s either going to score or he’s going to the line and he’ll score there.”

It was a frustrating loss for the Jackrabbits and head coach Shelton Diggs. Freshman Jovani Ruff was ready for primetime and scored 25 of the Jackrabbits’ 38 points, adding five rebounds and two blocks. Poly was without senior leader Christian Watson, and will be dramatically better upon his return–but the Jackrabbits will need to figure out how to get more than 13 points out of the rest of the roster until then.

“We have to figure it out, we have to get more comfortable shooting the ball,” said Diggs. “Jovani did great as a freshman and we need to find guys who can contribute.”

The Jackrabbits played much better defense than they did last season and limited the Saints to eight points in the second quarter.

“I thought our effort on defense was great it’s just not going to amount to much when we’re not scoring,” said Diggs. 

Darron “Buddha” Henry played his first game of the year for the Jackrabbits after sitting out the first few games with a foot injury. Henry contributed five points, but no one else had more than three points for Poly.

“It was great to have Buddha back and I thought he played well and did a good job handling the ball and playing defense,” said Diggs. “It’s just going to come down to scoring for us right now.”

St. Anthony will try to wrap up a de facto Moore League title this afternoon as they face Compton, Poly’s co-league champion from last year. Poly will try to close the tournament with a win as they face Sherman Oaks Notre Dame.


Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.