Keppel took down Baldwin Park 77-63, and now they get a shot at Pasadena on Friday at Muir for a shot at the ‘Ship … Wish I could be there for that one!

Congrats to Keppel and coach Hung Duong for reaching Friday’s semifinals against Pasadena. Keppel was always one of my favorite teams to cover when I was in Pasadena, they play hard, they play smart, and with the talent they have now, I’m guessing they’re gonna give PHS all they can handle. — Fred J.

By Fred J. Robledo
— The Keppel High School boys basketball team got exactly what it wanted against host Baldwin Park during Wednesday’s CIF-Southern Section Division 2A quarterfinal – another strong effort from junior twins Jordan and Justin Young, and a near flawless performance from point guard Timmy Wong.
But as Aztecs coach Hung Duong explained it, when senior guard Sam Thim is on his game too, the Aztecs are nearly unbeatable, which was the case as Thim poured in 28 points to lead the third-seed Aztecs to a 77-63 victory, sending them to Friday’s semifinals against second-seed Pasadena at Muir High School.

Jordan Young finished with 19 points and Justin Young 13, but Thim was 4-for-7 from 3-point range, and 7-for-10 overall, which simply proved too much for the Braves to deal with.
“When Sam goes off if complements everyone else,” Duong said. “It opens up the inside game, it allows our guards to penetrate. When he’s knocking down shots, we’re just an extremely difficult team to defend.
“We didn’t want to just settle for jump shots tonight. We wanted to drive and get shots at the basket. It’s hard going on the road and trying to win with perimeter shots, so I thought we did a good job of using our size advantage and hitting timely shots when we needed them.
“But give Baldwin Park credit, they played their hearts out and hit a lot of big shots too. We had to play the way we did to beat them.”
The Braves (24-5) were making their first quarterfinal appearance since 1984 and jumped out to the perfect start, leading 11-3 after Jimmy Ramirez’s three-pointer with 4:59 left in the opening quarter.
But the Aztecs (24-5) closed the quarter on a 10-3 run and scored the first nine points of the second quarter to take a 22-13 lead.
But the Braves, who received 15 points from Fernie Morelos and 12 points apiece from Joey De La Torre and Eddie Gamboa, climbed back to trail just 36-34 at half.
In fact, the Braves trailed just 49-45 with less than four minutes left in the third when Thim hit back-to-back 3-pointers to extend the Aztecs’ lead to 55-45, which turned into a 60-47 lead going into the fourth quarter.
“That (back-to-back 3-pointers) let the air out of our sails a little bit,” Braves coach Marc Hart said. “We had to pressure even more, which allowed more space, and against them it’s tough because their point guard (Wong) handles the ball so well.”
Wong did play a big role, not only did he finish with 14 points, he also had nine assists, many of which found their way to the Young twins for easy baskets in the paint.
“I thought the twins killed us,” Hart said. “Their point guard (Wong) did what I thought he was going to do, he finds his guys and doesn’t turn the ball over. I call it hockey assists. He doesn’t always get the main assists, but he gets it to the guy who gets it to one of the twins.
“That was the difference, they killed us in the paint, we gave up way too many easy baskets. I told the kids if we eliminated those we could win the game, but it’s easier to say than do. Plus, they did a good job of defending us.”
Tomes Montes, who had 33 points in the Braves’ second-round win over Villa Park, only finished with nine points, and Morelos had to be careful most of the second half, picking up his third foul a minute into the third quarter, and his fourth with 2:44 left in the third quarter.
“That hurts when your best player is limited in that regard, but Keppel played well, they really did,” Hart said. “I told our guys afterward, you set a school record with 24 wins and got to the quarterfinals for the first time in 26 years. It didn’t matter much when I told them, but it’s going to sink in later.
“Then I looked at the (juniors and sophomores) and said, ‘don’t wait another 26 years to get us back here. I’m no (San Dimas coach) Gary Prestasater. I won’t be around that long.'”
For Duong, it’s his first semifinal appearance after more than a decade at the school.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Duong said. “It’s tremendous. Hopefully I will sit down and enjoy it for a while, but already I’m thinking about the next game.”
626-962-8811, ext. 2161

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  • Steve

    Way to go Kep! Represent Almont league. I’m an Oilers parent and was devasted at our loss AT HOME… Keppel only team to play us tough in past month prior to our loss. Timmy is really goo player. coach runs a good offense and
    this win is no suprise… Keppel a good veteran team. So from an Oilers parent, good luck to Keppel!


    Let’s see, I went to PHS for 2.5 yrs, moved to Monterey Park and graduated from Keppel. I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR ALMOST 30+ years for this, and then to have the game at the “hated ones” house on Lincoln,WHAT MORE CAN A BULLDOG/AZTEC WANT?(how about an Alhambra beatdown? Oh,that already happened!!) As my kids would say OMG!!!! this is the ultimate, okay enough on that.



  • Anonymous

    So many SGV teams have made it to the semifinals. Which game should I attend?


    PCC has a new arena that sits 2500 comfortably. Muir holds about 900 – standing room only. With such a big game, shouldn’t they upsize/upgrade?

  • Tech Support

    You wish you could be there for the game????

    Where else would the Prep Reporter be on a Friday night?????

  • FredJ

    Tech, Miguel will be there, I was talking about me, I was covering Keppel in Baldwin Park for both papers and remembering how fond I was of both Keppel and Pasadena, it’s a game I wish I could watch. But I’ve got a good one too, Price at Bishop Amat…And yes, that game should be at PCC, I remember covering many of PHS’ playoff games where fans were left outside because of over-crowding. I know Keppel brings a good crowd, they did at Baldwin Park. Hopefully Pasadena makes this switch, Muir is a great place to watch it, but some fans won’t get to go because it’s too small. Trust me, if this game is at Muir, there will be angry fans outside the building who won’t get a chance to watch it.

  • Anonymous

    Just spoke to the Keppel AD, left a message for the PHS AD as well as leaving a message for CIF to change the venue for Friday night’s game. If the game is still at Muir you better get there early or you will be sitting outside during tipoff.

    A few years ago PHS played Valencia and there were about 150 people who could not get in the game because if was at capacity. I was one of those people not fun to hang out with pissed off parents and fans from both schools!!

  • Anonymous

    This happens all the time with PHS, Tucker doesn’t care who’s left outside the building, he wants the intimate home crowd. I too have been shutout during playoff games, its unreal that PHS gets its way like this, especially with another local team like Keppel in the semifinals…Keppel fans have to call CIF to get this changed, otherwise it will be more of the same.

  • 81

    PHS should stomp all over Keppel with their athleticism, height, and speed. Keppel will have to be on fire from outside to win this one.

    Why should PHS change it to PCC? THink of it this way, his team is familar with playing on the court at Muir, they don’t have to try to adjsut playing in a larger venue and perhaps PCC doesn’t want the invite or is too expensive.

  • Todd Terzian

    The game should be played at Pasadena City College, so everyone that wants to, can enjoy it. It’s also good for the players to get used to playing on the longer court and dealing with depth perception, before you get to the arena setting.


    Hey, the whole “intimate setting” goes out the window in the CIF Final, which is played at the 13,000 seat HONDA CENTER. PCC seats 2,500, but I admit I haven’t been inside for a game. I was left out in the cold several times when PHS made a CIF State run a few years ago. We had no way to get updates outside. Lets not have a repeat of the Fairfax incident. It wasn’t cool to see HS fans being made out as trouble makers on local TV news. TV loves to make ppl look bad.

  • Getting It Right

    Just spoke with the CIF office the two AD’s are in discussion of changing to a larger venue. This is the right thing to do for the Pasadena Community as well as for the Mark Keppel High. This promises to be a fantastic game. Athleticism vs fundamental basketball!!

  • Tech Support

    Thanks Fred, my bad on not reading the byline.

    I’m torn between watching Price-Amat and this game as well (in addition to making the trek to the Valley to watch Crespi-ND). If they move the game to PCC it is an easy decision for me.


    I just looked at PCC’s home schedule. PCC women’s BB is playing home game on friday night at 7pm, so our HS game cant be moved there.

  • Todd T

    If PCC women playing on Friday night, then a solution is for PHS and Keppel to play on Saturday night at PCC. A lot of schools do this in CIF when there are conflicts or gym problems.

    This matchup is good for West San Gabriel Valley basketball and would be great to accommodate everyone that wants to see the game, rather than just those who want to arrive early and then suffocate in that small gym at PHS. That arguement about Fairfax and the the point that they’ve always played in that small gym in big games since the 70’s is tired. Its 2010 and its time to progress. PCC after 60 something years, has a great facility and its time to use this venue that is supposed to serve the community during events such as this.

    On a side note, in this depression like economic era, where the schools don’t have a dollar to their name and the ASB budgets have been decimated etc, both schools could use the infusion of funds that the game generates. 8$ for adults and I think 5$ or $6 for students adds up quick, not to mention concession sales.

  • anonymous

    Tucker doesn’t care, he won’t budge from Muir, he doesn’t care the district is losing money, or doing what’s best for the schools in these economic times, he only cares about himself, not that fans he’s locking out of the building. Typical PHS, it’s all about them, what a shame. I don’t get off work until 6 and normally would get there in time, but I guess Tuck doesn’t care about people like me who would benefit from a larger venue. I guess I have to miss one of the best area games in years again…thanks PHS, way to look out for the fans, you haven’t learned anything from years past.

  • keppelfans

    Calling on all Keppel fans to turn the tables on PHS, get there early, two hours early and get your seats. If PHS wants to lockout fans, let them lock out there own fans. If it’s first come, first serve, get there early, there is no other way around it. Don’t show up at 6 and not get a seat.

  • PHS

    All you Keppel fans save your whining for after the game when you’ll come up with other excuses for why you got your butts kicked.

  • FredJ

    I’m taking Keppel, I’ve thought about it a lot, it’s a tremendous matchup pitting Pasdena’s pressure against Keppel’s guards, and I don’t see Timmy Wong folding under pressure. Pasadena has never been a great halfcourt team, they score with their defense, in transition, and I don’t see Keppel turning the ball over and giving up easy buckets. Plus the Aztecs have shooters, slashers and don’t give up a lot of second-chance opportunities. PHS’ athleticism may cause them trouble on the boards, but in the end, I’m going with Keppel to pull it out. Like I said, wish I could be there, coach Doung, Tucker are two of my favorites, what a match-up in every way imaginable. Since this is their first meeting ever, hopefully this sets the stage for future non-league games between the two.

  • anthony

    keppel is a done deal they have not played any real teams this year they come from a weak league and there last game baldwin park cmon now pasadena had a way tougher matchup against mira costa and pasadena is to big and to athletic and will not lose to a team that they can beat on their worst day

  • anthony

    keppel is a done deal they have not played any real teams this year they come from a weak league and there last game baldwin park cmon now pasadena had a way tougher matchup against mira costa and pasadena is to big and to athletic and will not lose to a team that they can beat on their worst day

  • anthony

    and they will turn the ball over they have not seen any kind of pressure this year that pasadena is about to put on them and there tallest guy is 6’4 twins or whatever they dont even begin to have enough athletes to matchup with pasadena this is is going to be a murder by pasadena

  • steam

    anthony, cockiness like that usually leads to ones own demise. Just hope that your right because if keppel wins youll end up looking like a total jackass.

  • Steam

    Anthony, cockiness like that usually leads to ones own demise. You better hope that your right because if keppel wins youll end up looking like a total jackass.

  • anthony

    Im not worried at all and the only one that will look like a jack ass is you idiot you obviously dont know a thing about basketball look at pasadena’s schedule and then go look at keppel’s weak schedule and how they barley beat teams who are horrible. Will see tomorrow night if your running your mouth fool

  • anthony

    I guarantee dena is not losing to no weak team from alhambra that would be a joke

  • steam

    Lol you like to run your mouth dont you? it’s alright. I can tell your from pasadena just by the way you take offense to a simple statement. Just relax and enjoy the game. You don’t have to trash talk every team that plays you. Just chill dude. lawl. Talk about sportsmanship.

  • Steam

    And just for your information, i do think that pasadena has the upper hand and it will be an uphill battle for keppel. So no, i dont know what your talkin about when you say im running my mouth. It’s just the way you trash talk and have to feel superior to every team that plays you. Grow up kid.

  • CDawg

    move the game to Gabrielino High School capacity 1900+ (with both sides bleachers opened),lots of standing room in the foyers

    or Azusa Pacific University….

    Gabrielino ’06

  • anthony

    I told you steam you bum just like i said keppel was no match

  • Anonymous

    it wasnt that big of a loss, dena just played good d, but keppel missed a lot of open looks. n gotta admit that timmy wong can ball, he had better handles than the entire dena team

  • Steam

    Yeah i knew pasadena had the uphand as i told you before. Im not a keppel fan either, i just replied to how you trash other teams before you play them. Have some sportsmanship. How was i burned? i never said keppel would win, all i said was you better hope your right because of the way you were trash talking and your cockiness. You missed the whole point.

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