May 28, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Moorpark, behind 35-point effort of USC-signee Drake London, handles Portola 65-50 in CIF 4AA boys basketball playoffs

Safe Habibeh of Portola drives to the basket in Tuesday’s playoff game against Moorpark. (Photos: Fernando M. Donado, For OC Sports Zone)

Portola’s boys basketball team managed to capture one victory in its first appearance in CIF post season play.

But the Bulldogs were unable to handle a tough Moorpark team Tuesday in the second round of the 4AA playoffs at Portola. Moorpark advanced into the quarterfinals with a 65-50 victory behind a 35-point performance by 6-5 senior Drake London, who is headed to USC on a basketball and football scholarship.

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Moorpark (21-9) led 28-17 at halftime and was in command the rest of the way against Portola, which wrapped up its first varsity season.

“Obviously, the best player in the gym was Drake,” said Portola Coach Brian Smith. “He’s a great kid, great athlete, great scorer. That team is pretty good when he’s doing well. He does a good job of getting his team involved.”

Portola (15-15) was led by Safe Habibeh (15 points), Shoma Doherty (14 points) and Mohsen Hashemi (eight points).

But the Bulldogs were victimized with turnovers and missed a number of easy shots inside, especially in the first half.

“We came out flat, we kicked ourselves, we made some mistakes,” Smith said. “I think we were our own worst enemy tonight. We tried to prepare the guys to not let the moment be too big for them, but as everything it’s a learning experience and we’re hopefully building into what we can do for next year.”

“We had way too many missed easy shots and when you’re missing shots like that, you can’t win games.”

Portola’s biggest shot of the night was a 3-pointer from beyond half court by Doherty at the end of the third quarter which cut the lead to 41-36 and seemed to give the Bulldogs a spark.

But Moorpark was able to regain control and finish strong, outscoring Portola by 10 points in the final stanza.

“I thought that was going to be the thing that was going to get us going,” Smith said. “And then they went on a run, so kudos to them. They’re a class act team and their coaching staff is classy.”

London, who is a wide receiver in football, was just too dominant for the Bulldogs. He scored all 12 of Moorpark’s points in the second quarter and the first four points of the third quarter. He’s been averaging around 30 points a game.

“It’s two programs that I think have come a long way in a short amount of time,” said Moorpark’s first-year Coach Ryan Moore. “They have done a heck of a job creating an environment here. It was a long bus ride for us wasn’t the most fun. But when you got zero (London) on your team, good things happen more often than not.

“Portola is a heck of a team; they’re very well coached and I wouldn’t want to play them any time in the next year or two.”

Noah Mantera added 10 points for Moorpark, which plays Quartz Hill Thursday night in the quarterfinals.

-Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone;