May 30, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: Top-seeded Windward ruins JSerra’s upset bid with 67-61 win in semis

Dylan Andrews of Windward (left) and JSerra’s Justin Williams react after Friday’s playoff game. (Photos: Fernando M. Donado, For OC Sports Zone)

JSerra’s boys basketball team looked on its way to pulling off an upset over top-seeded Windward of Los Angeles Friday night in the CIF Division 1 semifinals.

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

The fourth-seeded Lions had a one point lead after three quarters and extended the margin to three points early in the final stanza much to the delight of their hometown fans, who showed up in big numbers.

But Windward finished strong and captured a 67-61 victory to move into the finals on Saturday against Riverside Poly. The Wildcats outscored the Lions 26-19 in the final quarter.

“Credit their defense, they did a good job of protecting the paint,” said JSerra Coach Keith Wilkinson. “We had some open shots that Max Bowman hit in the second half that missed in the first half but we had to take those because they packed the paint in.

“And they did a good job defending, they have good size and good length at that rim. So it was tough.”

Bowman hit three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and wound up with 14 points to lead the Lions (24-8). Alpha Chibambe scored 13 points and Justin Williams 10 points for JSerra.

Windward (26-7) was led by UNLV-signee Devin Tellis, who had 23 points and made nine points in the fourth quarter. He sank five 3-pointers. Dylan Andrews added 13 points and Jaren Harris 11 points for Windward.

“I thought it was absolutely a gritty win,” said Windward Coach Colin Pfaff. “We knew coming down here against a tough well-coached team, it was going to be a dogfight and we also knew it was going to come down to the last couple of possessions so I think our guys felt comfortable that the game plan we had drawn up was playing out as we had it.

“And I think being here last year (in the semifinals) we had the game against Chino Hills and losing that one, they had a burning desire to climb the mountain and get over the hump so I think that’s what we saw in the last couple minutes of the fourth quarter.”

“They had us probably the whole game but at the end, we finally pulled away and it was just a great team win, honestly,” Tellis added. “The key on offense was getting the ball inside out and playing through our bigs and then creating for us on the outside and on defense it was really slowing down Ian Martinez (one of the Lions top scorers, who was held to five points). He’s a load but we got it done tonight.”

Windward has won one CIF Division 4, but not a Division 1 crown, the coach said.

Wilkinson, the JSerra coach, indicated that the Lions season is not over and they will continue in the Southern California regionals after the CIF finals.

“We’re in because we’re in the semis,” Wilkinson said. “We will look forward to that opportunity. It’s a long time until we play so we get a week off, but we’re excited about that opportunity and excited for this group.

“I’m really glad this group of seniors isn’t done because they’ve been a great group and probably one of the best groups ever to play here at JSerra. I’m really proud of them, I’m glad this is not the last one.”

-Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com