East County Sports

Locals win at event; Pats fall to Saints

Christian High's KOBE SANDERS handles the ball against St. Augustine. / photo by Dave Dickens

2019 EAST COUNTY PREP BOYS BASKETBALL

EastCountySports.com staff report

SANTEE – When Granite Hills’ JOHN PIKE was assigned to guard Victory Christian High’s 6-foot-9 sophomore Christian Ubochi on Thursday, the senior didn’t shy away from the assignment.

“When my coach (DAN DUFFY) assigned me to guard the big guy, I was up to the challenge and wanted to make a big impact on the game,” Pike said. “I reminded myself that effort matters more than size.”

Pike and the rest of the Eagles did a number defensively on head coach D.J. Gay’s club, holding the Knights to just 41 points in a 76-41 victory at the Santana New Year’s Classic at Santana High.

“Hunter Pike was tonight’s unsung hero,” Duffy said. “He battled the majority of the night with their very talented and athletic big man.”

The Knights feature three players, including Ubochi, who average around 15 more per game or more.

“Even though I got into early foul trouble, I was very satisfied with my defensive performance and I believe that my teams’ unselfishness and all-around teamwork led us to the victory.”

And while the Eagles may have been considered underdogs coming into the contest, a pair of victories over the last two games at the event appear to have Granite getting back on track in time for the league season.

Junior MCKAY ROBERTS had 23 points and seven assists for Granite Hills (4-9).

Junior JOHN YAKOU had 13 points and 3 steals for the Eagles, while junior teammate CALEB ERICKSON added 10 points and 10 rebounds. 

“This was another good team effort,” Duffy said. “I’m proud of our energy and hustle.”

WEST HILLS 80, SAN PASQUAL 59 – Four West Hills players finished in double figures as the Wolf Pack won their sixth game in-a-row by crushing the Golden Eagles at the Santana New Year’s Classic.

The Wolf Pack turned a 16-12 lead after one quarter into a 20-point halftime lead by outscoring the Golden Eagles, 26-10.

“(We had) a lot more energy on the defensive end,” West Hills coach ELIAS TOTAH said. “(It) felt like we dictated tempo the whole game and resorted to a defense that we could flourish in, finally.”

West Hills also won for the eighth time in its last nine outings and improved to 9-3 overall.

Six-foot-3 sophomore KYLE DOBYNS had 18 points, including a pair of three-pointers 6-for-6 night at the charity stripe.

Junior guard JAYDEN MORENO contributed 15 points for West Hills.

Senior point guard MICHAEL TOTAH had 13 points for the Wolf Pack.

“Michael Totah and Kyle Dobyns showed aggressiveness the whole game and that is what made us pull away,” Coach Totah said.

West Hills sophomore guard ASHTON AVESTRO came home with 10 points.

“(We are) getting a lot better mileage out of Jayden Moreno and Ashton Avestro,” Coach Totah said. “They can play, and they understand that. They just have to put it together possession after possession.”

The win sets up possibly the most intriguing all-East County matchup of the season-to-date when West Hills meets another red-hot squad in the Valhalla Norsemen on Friday afternoon at 4:30 at Santana High in the tournament.

“Really happy with the performance but (we) need to keep going into tomorrow against an improved Valhalla squad.”

VALHALLA 64, CENTRAL 53 – The hot combination of senior guards DOMANIC SAFARTA and JORDAN GAINES combined for 37 points as the Norsemen defeated the Spartans at the Santana New Year’s Classic.

Just one night after the duo teamed up for 45 points in a tournament win here, Safarta had 20 points and seven assists, while Gaines added 17 points and four steals as Valhalla won for the sixth-straight game to improve to 11-2 on the season.

Christian High’s VINNY SIGNORELLI puts up a shot against Saints on Thursday. / photo by Dave Dickens

ST. AUGUSTINE 75, CHRISTIAN 58 – The fourth-ranked Saints bolted out to the lead and were never headed in the Western League opener at Ryan Athletic Center on Thursday.

St. Augustine led by as many as 17 as the Patriots had several turnovers in the early going.

“It was definitely a tough for us tonight,” Christian High senior JACKSON LARSEN said. “It was tough to get going the way (we) normally do but I need to continue working on being a leader for my team and take charge of games like this.”

Larsen and junior MILES WILLIAMS combined for the Patriots’ first six points, and Williams added a three-pointer as the Saints led just 15-12 early.

However, Saints would lead 25-12 by the end of the quarter.

Christian defends St. Augustine’s Chibuzo Agbo on Thursday. / photo by Dave Dickens

Williams found several ways to score to keep the Patriots interested in the second quarter but the visitors would build the lead to 35-16 before Christian High junior KOBE SANDERS had a three-pointer and then a runner to the rim.

However, with just over a minute-and-a-half to go before intermission, a steal by St. Augustine junior Tyson McWilliams led to a pass and breakaway jam by junior Chibuzo Agbo, forcing a Patriot time out.

The Saints led 43-24 at halftime as Christian freshman VINNY SIGNORELLI had a three-pointer in the final minute of the first half.

Signorelli had two more treys in the second half.

Williams had nine points in the first half, while Sanders had seven before half.

Christian senior CAMERON DEJESUS had a nice sequence in the third quarter with a three-pointer, followed by an offensive rebound and putback to draw the Saints lead back under 20.

Christian High junior MILES WILLIAMS puts up a shot on Thursday. / photo by Dave Dickens

Despite the Saints ranking in the local media poll, computer power rankings have them rated as the county’s top team entering the week, and the 51st-ranked squad in the entire country.

The Patriots fell to 6-8 (0-1 Western), while the Saints improved to 12-4 (1-0 Western).

MILES WILLIAMS handles the ball for Christian High on Thursday against St. Augustine. / photo by Dave Dickens

SANTANA 70, CENTRAL 64 – Senior forward BRANDON SIMMONS poured in 28 points for the Sultans, who picked up their fourth win of the season at the Santana New Year’s Classic.

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