Damien defeats very good Thousand Oaks squad to win tournament title, 60-56.

By John Sherrard

What a difference a day makes for the Damien High School boys basketball team.

The Spartans held on for a tight two-point semifinal victory over California on Friday night, but Saturday’s championship game of the Sierra Vista/Baldwin Park Winter Tip Off tournament was a 60-56, come-from-behind win over Thousand Oaks at Covina High.

Damien trailed by as much as 10 points, 32-22, early in the third quarter, but went on an 18-11 run to trail by only three points, 43-40, entering the final quarter.

The Spartans (5-0) were led by sophomore Jeremy Hemsley with a game-high 24 points and 11 rebounds.

Damien held a two-point lead, 58-56, with 20 seconds remaining in the game, when Hemsley drove the lane and scored a layup to give the Spartans a four-point lead.

“We played great and they (Thousand Oaks) were really, really good,” Damien coach Matt Dunn said.

Thousand Oaks (4-1), which is expected to be a top team in CIF–Southern Section Division 2AA, was led by senior guard Tanner Fanjoy’s 17 points.

“What I like about our guys is they love a challenge and they thought it was a great opportunity and I thought we played really hard,” Dunn said.

“They were a very physical team and we matched that (Saturday).”

Hemsley, who saw action as a freshman last season, was named the tournament MVP. The guard averaged 20 points in the five games.

Also named to the all-tournament team was Damien senior guard Jared Dixon (15 points Saturday) and senior forward Keith Cavanaugh.

The Spartans jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead in the first quarter, but the Lancers outscored Damien, 14-4, to lead 14-9 after one. Fanjoy scored eight points in the quarter.

Fanjoy and senior forward Dakota Pierce (10 points) were also named to the all-tournament team.

Hemsley scored nine points in the second quarter, with driving layups, short jumpers and a long 3-pointer. Damien trailed 29-22 at the half.

“Obviously Jeremy was spectacular in terms in not only scoring, but getting other guys shots,” Dunn said. “He played in a lot of big games (last season) and it’s kind of a new role for him this season. I thought he was great, especially in the fourth quarter.”

Hemsley had eight points in the final quarter.

“We came out more aggressive in the second half and came out with the win,” Hemsley said. “We just played better defense in the fourth quarter.”

Senior forward Jacob Lachina added 16 points for the Lancers.

Glendora won the consolation championship with a 52-49 win over Walnut, while Troy of Fullerton defeated California, 64-54, for third place.

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