East County Sports

1st-place Pats rally in closing minutes



By Nick Pellegrino
ECS Senior writer

CITY LEAGUE: cHRISTIAN 2-1, Mira Mesa 2-1, Morse 2-1, pATRICK hENRY 2-1, sdhth 1-2, kEARNY 0-3,

DEL CERRO — Sophomore guard Julian “JuJu” LeBel tallied 10 of his game-best 32 points in the fourth quarter, giving Christian a resounding 58-53 come-from-behind victory over host Patrick Henry.

With the Patriots triumph, paired with Morse stopping Mira Mesa, all four teams are tied for first place in the City League at 2-1.

First place is a familiar position for first-year Christian head coach Will Cunningham, who returns to his old college campus when Saqn Diego Christian College was on the grounds and Cunningham captured an NCCAA national championship.

“There was nothing wrong with my 12 seasons at Cathedral Catholic,” said Cunningham. “This was just a new challenge in the my life and I went for iut.”

Like with the Dons, Cunningham’s Patriots demonstrated a full 48 minutes of defense, which allowed thr siude to tally from a 7-point deficit through three periods.

The Patriots were still trailing by seven with 3P:21 remaining when a near ruckus took placer in front of the Christian bench as boyh teams scrambledon the floor for a loose ball.

Patrick Henry campus security walked onto the court, but the players took care of things without aid; there was no problem as far as they were concerned, as both teams were simply hustling.

But it was also the moment the game change 180 degrees, as Christian outscioed Patrick Henry, 15-2, down the stretch.

“We did a better job of playing defense and grabbing rebounds,” added the coach. “We kept them from shooting pen threes, while we were able to get to the backet.”

Along with LeBel, junior wing Gannon Pisapia registered six of his 17 points in the closing minutes.

“The players are growing and I’m getting to know them,” added Cunningham. “And when you hustle and play defense, you always have a chance in every game, so we were able to comeback on Patrick Henry.”

LeBel,atransfer from Foothills Christian, was lastr season’s East County Rookie of the Year.

For Patrick Henry (12-9), Isaac Weatherred led with 17 points. The first 15 came on threes, then we was limited to a single layin in the fourtH quarter.

Next week, Christian (12-6 overall) closes the firswt round of league play with home games against Morse (Tue., Jan. 16) and Kearny. (Fri., Jan.19),b oyh at Ryan Center.