By Fred J. Robledo, twitter.com/sgvnsports
There came a point when Keppel boys basketball coach Hung Duong threw up his hands and begged for someone to take a charge.
“When you’re getting man-handled on the boards, you’ve got to do something,” Duong said.
When Damien wasn’t knocking in three-point shots or scoring in transition, they were cleaning up the boards in a 64-48 victory over Keppel in the quarterfinals of the Baldwin Park/Sierra Vista boys basketball tournament on Thursday.
“We found out physically we’re not able to play at this level,” Duong said. “We gave up too many putbacks and did a poor job of boxing out. You can’t do that against a team like that and expect to win.”
Damien guards Jeremy Hemsley and Jared Dizon each finished with a game-high 16 points. Dizon also had eight rebounds and sophomore Isaiah McCullough finished with 11 points as the Spartans improved to 3-0.
Damien will face California, a 63-57 winner over Claremont, in the semifinals tonight at Sierra Vista at 7:30 p.m.
In the earlier semifinal, Thousand Oaks, a 76-44 quarterfinal winner over Rowland, will take on Troy at 6 p.m.
The winners will meet for the championship on Saturday at Covina High at 7:30 p.m.
Keppel (2-1) fell behind 15 points early in the second quarter, but Brandon Fujii’s steal and basket cut Damien’s lead to 29-20.
But the Spartans closed the half on a 10-0 run and started the third quarter with 12 straight points to extend the run to 22 consecutive and a 51-22 lead that put the game out of reach.
“I thought we played really good for 20 minutes, which is about eight minutes more than we played so far this year, so that’s an improvement,” Damien coach Matt Dunn said. “It takes time to be able to be consistent for 32 minutes. We’re working on it, but we’re young and have a lot of young guys out there making decisions for us.”
Damien graduated 6-foot-8 Chris Reyes, but the Spartans made up for their lack of size by attacking the rim.
Of Hemsley’s 16 points, nine came on foul shots.
“We’re going to have to scrap a lot this year,” Hemsley said. “We don’t really have a big so we have to help each other rebound. We’re more fast paced so hopefully we get easier baskets in transition.”
Keppel fell behind by 31 points, but it kept battling, getting a team-high 11 points from Kyler Lee.
Spencer Briglio finished with nine points and 6-foot-4 sophomore center Bertram Make finished with eight.
“I’m proud of our kids for not folding in the second half,” Duong said. “It could have been a 40-point game.
“We’ve got a lot of work, but Damien’s a well-coached team with a lot of solid basketball players. They do a good job of getting in the key and kicking it out to shooters. And they rebound well, so give them credit, they’re going to have a fine season.”
Thousand oaks 78, Rowland 44
Troy 71, Colony 54
Damien 64, Keppel 48
California 63, Claremont 57
South Hills 67, La Puente 50
Glendora 61, Baldwin Park 34
Covina 73, Diamond Ranch 60
Walnut 75, Don Lugo 68
Sierra Vista 50, Garey 47
Edgewood 49, Azusa 45
LA Garfield 56, West Covina 51
Arroyo 64, Jurupa Hills 52