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Basketball Long Beach Poly Wilson

Basketball: Long Beach Poly Tops Wilson To Stay in Title Hunt

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly is sponsored by Bryson Financial

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Wilson Athletics is sponsored by Joel Bitonio, Class of 2009.

The Long Beach Poly boys’ basketball team hosted an upset-minded Wilson team on Monday evening, with both teams needing a win to stay in the Moore League championship hunt behind first-place Lakewood. The Jackrabbits were looking to shake off the funk of their Friday loss to the Lancers, which broke a 10-game win streak. Wilson’s offense started off hot, but Poly eventually locked in during the second half to take a much-needed win, 70-56.

Wilson scored 39 points in the first half, but Poly held them to just 17 points in the second half to secure the victory.

“Our coaches got on us at halftime that we weren’t playing defense, we weren’t playing with Poly pride,” said standout Poly junior Jovani Ruff. “We didn’t want to get embarrassed. There’s not a lot of people in the stands, we were doing a bad job of creating our own energy. Something was off at first, but we figured it out.”

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Nate Perris came in blazing hot for the Bruins, pouring in 17 of his 19 points in the first half, and Wilson led 22-17 at the end of the first quarter. Poly put up 25 points in the second to take a 42-39 lead as Ruff started driving to the basket and scoring in bunches. 

Coming out of the locker room, Karim Caldwell was hot for Wilson and hit a pair of triples, but the Poly defense did a better job of pressuring Wilson’s ballhandlers. The Jackrabbits held Wilson to nine points in the third and eight points in the fourth (not giving up a field goal in the fourth until 3:33 left in the game).

“You’re playing people where beating Poly is a big thing for them, so guys are going to come out and really play,” said Poly coach Shelton Diggs. “We’ve got to create our own energy and be able to match that.”

Ruff said he was happy with how he and his teammates turned the page from the Lakewood game. He and Austin Unegbu led the way with 19 points each, backed up by 17 points from Giovanni Ofoegbu.

“One loss doesn’t define the season, we’re gonna take it one game at a time and see next week,” said Ruff.

Wilson was led by Perris’ 19 points and nine apiece from Carim Caldwell and Airus Allen.

Diggs said he hopes to see his team’s focus sharpen over the rest of the week.

“We’ve played everyone in league, we need to not get complacent,” said Diggs. “The second round is always difference from the first, so we’ve got to find our rhythm.”

Long Beach Poly Scoring Leaders

Jovani Ruff 19 points

Austin Unegbu 19 points

Giovanni Ofoegbu 17 points

Wilson Scoring Leaders

Nate Perris 19 points

Karim Caldwell 9 points

Airus Allen 9 points

VIDEO: Long Beach Poly vs Wilson Basketball
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.