Boys Basketball: Covina vs. Diamond Ranch in Azusa final tonight; Rowland, Keppel, Walnut, Glendora in Friday’s Final Four at Glendora

Tonight at 7 p.m.
Diamond Ranch (6-2) vs. Covina (6-2) — Robledo’s taking Covina

Friday’s semifinals

Rowland (6-2) vs. Keppel (5-3), 6 p.m. — Robledo’s toaking Rowland
Walnut (5-2) vs. Glendora (8-1), 7:30 p.m. – Robledo’s taking Glendora

By John Honell, Correspondent

A quick start and a big first half by Diamond Ranch were too much for Gladstone as the Panthers cruised to a 51-36 in the final round of pool play in the Azusa boys basketball Tournament on Wednesday night.

The win put the Panthers (6-2) into the championship game against Covina today at 7p.m. in a rematch of a Sierra Vista/Baldwin Park Tournament game in November which the Colts won, 73-60.

It was the first loss of the season for the Gladiators (4-1), who were off to their best start in more than 10 years.

The Panthers jumped out to a 10-0 lead and the Gladiators never recovered.

Senior Nnadi Udengwu jumped the passing lane and went the length of the floor for the Panthers’ first basket.

“That’s just a glimpse of what we’re capable of,” Panthers coach Loren Grover said. “Nnadi is a force when he’s got it together.”

Udengwu led all scorers with 18 points, six below his season average. Ernest Ugoagu added 10 points for the Panthers.

The Gladiators didn’t score until 1:59 of the first quarter on a basket by point guard Ben Reaves. That sparked them to a 6-2 run to make the score 14-6 at the end of the first quarter.

“We had trouble making open shots,” Gladiators coach Gary Kilmer said. “We might have been a little rattled when we saw how big and quick they were. Then they were so strong going to the basket.

“This is definetly the best team we’ve faced but it’s going to be good for us down
the road.”

The Panthers put the game out of reach with an 11-2 run to start the second quarter.

“They just went over the top of us,” Kilmer said. “We knew we had to stop their break. They’re faster than us and we kept getting beat.”

Jesse Garibay and Reece Pfeiffer took control of the boards and their outlet passes were the keys to the Panthers’ fast break as Diamond Ranch stretched its lead to 36-16 at the end of the first half.

“Jesse and Reece are finally getting healthy from ankle injuries,” Grover said. “They are getting in shape and starting to come into their own. Consistency will be the key down the stretch.”

The Gladiators appeared to settle down in the second half, when they slowed the game down and played at their preferred tempo.

“We weren’t consistent, especially in the second half,” Grover said. “We were rushing things and I don’t think we had the same intensity. We’ve got some young guys that aren’t used to winning.

“They’re learning how to win so there’s lessons to be learned from that second half.”

Manny Chivira led the Gladiators with 10 points, including eight in the fourth quarter.

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  • Colt74

    Good luck tonight against DR Colts!

  • gtownalum2008

    row land glendora glendora takes it all

    also dimond ranch gets payback tonight