May 29, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: Edison coach ‘so proud of these kids’ after loss to Los Altos in regional semifinal

Coach Rich Boyce encourages his Edison players prior to start of fourth quarter of the So Cal Regional playoff game at Los Altos. (Photos courtesy Jim McCormack, For OC Sports Zone).

Perhaps the oldest proverb in basketball is that you can’t coach size.

That adage became a reality for a feisty Edison High School boys basketball team, which battled to the end before falling to Los Altos led by 7-foot-1 junior center, Jazz Gardner, 57-41 in the semifinals of the CIF Southern California Division II tournament Saturday night at Los Altos.

“Their size inside takes away part of our game because we like to go inside,” Edison Coach Rich Boyce said. “That was obviously more difficult this game.”

To see the slide show, click on the first photo:

The difficulty was with Gardner, who not only is tall, but talented.

Ranked as one of the top 50 juniors in the nation, his presence distorts everything. He needs multiple defenders on him when he’s in the low post and he still needs to be defended at the 3-point line. On defense, his presence in the key allows the other Los Altos players to play an aggressive extended defense, which they do very well.

The key for Edison was to make enough perimeter shots to offset the reduction of inside opportunities, and that worked for the first eight minutes, with Dylan Hugues hitting two 3-pointers and Emerson Evans adding a third. Those baskets enabled the Chargers to be within one, 17-16, at the end of the first quarter.

Things went south after that. The Chargers were outscored 22-13 in the next 16 minutes of the game and entered the fourth quarter trailing by nine points. Although they stayed competitive, they could only get close enough to foul in the final minutes. 

Boyce lamented missed opportunities. “We had a lot of good looks,” he said, “but it was one of those games when they wouldn’t fall.”

Gardner scored 17 points for Los Altos with 18 points and was helped greatly by 20 points from the smallest man on the floor, 5-9 guard CJ Bellamy. Bothered by a foul problem, Bellamy played little in the first half but made up for lost time by scoring 16 of his points in the second half.

Ultimately, Boyce had nothing but praise for his team.

“I’m so proud of these kids,” he said. “We started 1-2 and everyone kind of doubted us and I told the kids by Christmas we’re going to be a really good team and we turned out to be a pretty good team.”

Good team indeed.

The Chargers won a couple of December tournaments and then ran the table in the Surf League, including two entertaining wins over talented Los Alamitos. They reached the semifinals in the CIF playoffs and then the semifinals in the SoCal regionals. They finished the season 28-6.

Edison’s leading scorers Saturday were Trey Wilborn with 15 points and Hugues with nine points.

Los Altos (26-6) advances to the Division II title game at No. 1 seed Foothill Tuesday. The winner of that game advances to the state championship next weekend.

—Courtesy Jim McCormack, For OC Sports Zone