East County Sports

Highlanders advance to state D4 title game

Helix's DYLAN LEE, MILES NORRIS and MAURICE HOLMES late in the fourth quarter Saturday night.





By Ramon Scott



LA MESA – When it became DYLAN LEE’s moment to shine in the fourth quarter, Helix High’s 6-foot-2 senior guard was where he had been all season.

In the right place at the right time.

Lee scored 14 of his team-high 22 points over the final eight minutes as the Highlanders turned back the serious threat of Immanuel, of Reedley, 80-69, in the CIF State Division IV Regional championship game Saturday night (March 18).

In the early moments of the second half, it seemed as if the visiting Eagles were going to pull off quite the impressive comeback after Helix had opened up a 15-point lead in the second quarter.

Helix’s MILES NORRIS (45) and CARSON BAKER (31) get ready to defend Saturday night.

JAYLEN ARNOLD and MILES NORRIS controlled the game on the glass early and turned it into instant offense to spark Helix to a 13-8 lead.

On an early transition, AMARI GREEN led the break and got it to Arnold, who got his shot up against an out-of-position defender to draw the contact and foul.

Arnold had 10 of Helix’s first 18 points as the Highlanders increased the edge to 20-11.

“We had to come out and get the first punch and that’s what we did,” Arnold said. “We didn’t want them to get to us first.”

Helix then got on a roll that looked like it was going to knock the Eagles right out of the game even before halftime.

The Scotties went on a run to take a 31-16 lead with 4:40 to go in the second quarter, forcing an Eagles’ time out.

The Highlanders were especially effective in the first half in limiting Immanuel star Darrin Person, Jr.

Right out of the time out, however, the Eagles scored a pair of quick buckets and turned the rest of the period in their favor, closing with a 13-2 run to trail just 33-29 at halftime.

Immanuel’s Nate Kendricks was on target in the first half, hitting two threes in the opening minutes, then canning another trey later in the half to make it 33-27. He also had a three-pointer just one minute into the second quarter for four first-half threes.

Mike Odom beat the buzzer for a late score to a make it a four-point game at intermission, as Helix became a bit careless with the basketball over the final few minutes of the first half.

The Eagles were able to finally get to the glass before Helix’s front-line tandem to put together a momentum-swinging surge out of the locker room.

Members of the Helix Highlanders celebrate following their CIF State D4 Regional final win over Reedley Immanuel.

Immanuel, from the Central Section was able to storm to a 43-40 lead as Dario Aluisi hit a three-pointer and took a big charge call.

Moments later, Kendricks hit a 15-footer then added three free throws on a fouled three-point attempt with three minutes left in the third.

After Immanuel (23-9) took a 48-40 lead, Helix changed things up defensively, much as they did in its opening state playoff game against West Torrence.

Highlanders coach JOHN SINGER moved his chess pieces into a matchup zone, which confounded the Eagles and basically turned off the scoring fountain that was Kendricks.

Although Kendricks finished with 32 points, he was held to just a field goal from that point on. Odom finished with 10 points for the Eagles.

Norris had 13 points, seven rebounds and two blocks through three, as he finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds.

Norris got back to work inside, taking an entry pass from Arnold at the top of the key, then using a spin move in the post, which resulted in a confident finger roll, as the Highlanders started to get on with it.

Arnold finished with 18 and 10 rebounds.

Helix seemed to be back in its game-opening rhythm in the fourth, making five quick points and forcing an Eagle time out with 6:26 left in the game.

Arnold used a behind-the-back dribble to stop on his man and use a spin move inside to get the flow going.

Helix outscored Immanuel 12-6 to start the period, but took off from there, finishing with 29 points in the fourth and another high number on the scoreboard.

The Scotties scored on a quick passing sequence that saw Norris throw a bounce pass inside to CARSON BAKER, who in turn, bounced a no-look pass to Lee, who was all alone for the bank shot, plus the foul conversion, to make it 63-54 lead.

Lee made a tough baseline field goal for a 65-56 lead and got another and-1 before Person countered with an 18-footer from the baseline with 3:42 left.

Norris had an offensive putback with 2:54 remaining.

Lee then nailed a three to put the Scotties up 73-63 with 2:30 left, giving him nine in the fourth at that point. He later made four free throws on a pair of technical fouls against the Eagles and was 7-of-8 from the line down the stretch.

“Obviously, it’s a great win,” Singer said. “I was just so proud of our kids when they came back.

“We always talk about who is the tougher team and I think we showed a lot of tough once they got ahead of us.”

Helix (31-5) will face Northern California Regional champion St. Patrick-St. Vincent, of Vallejo, on Saturday at noon at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento for the CIF State Division IV championship.

“Words can’t describe it, it means a lot,” Lee said. “Especially for all the seniors on the team, this is a huge accomplishment for everybody.

“My mind is blown right now that we’re going to Sacramento. It would be very big for us to win the state championship.”

The Highlanders become the first boys team from the East County to compete for a state basketball title. The 27-7 Bruins are from the North Coast Section.

Helix:  Dylan Lee 22, Miles Norris 19, Jaylen Arnold 18, Carson Baker 10, Isaiah Wooden 4, Jaylen Hinson 3, Amari Green 2, Maurice Holmes 2.


2017 CIF State Boys Basketball Championships Division IV

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