Covina Christmas Tournament
Monday’s First Round Results
Los Altos 41, San Gabriel 38
Cal 74, Azusa 27
Northview 57, Mountain View 48
Damien 90, Sierra Vista 24
Bishop Amat 50, South Hills 44
Rowland 70, South El Monte 24
La Salle 62, Charter Oak 47
Covina 71, Garey 43
Thursday’s quarterfinals at Covina HS
Los Altos vs. California, 4 p.m.
Northview vs. Damien, 5:30 p.m.
Bishop Amat vs. Rowland, 7 p.m.
La Salle vs. Covina, 8:30 p.m.
By John Sherrard
The La Salle High School boys basketball team broke with a long-running tradition of hosting its own tournament this season and may have started a new tradition in the longest-running tourney in the valley.
The Lancers, ranked No. 6 in CIF-Southern Section Division 4AA, defeated Charter Oak, 63-47, in a first-round game of the 59th annual Doc Sooter Christmas Tournament on Wednesday night at Covina High.
La Salle (6-2) will play Covina, a 71-43 winner over Garey, today in a quarterfinal game at 4 p.m., while Charter Oak (4-8) plays a consolation game against Garey at 2:30 p.m.
The Lancers, who held their own Christmas tournament for 18 years, were led by a pair of freshmen. Guard Milan Acquuah had a game-high 21 points and Vance Jackson added 16 points and nine rebounds.
“I realize my team is short and I’m the biggest one on the team and I have to get in there and get rebounds,” Jackson said. “That’s what will help us win.”
Jackson may tower over everyone at 6-foot-7, but his “shorter” team only has four players under 6-2.
Charter Oak was led by senior wingman Daniel Gutierrez with 13 points and senior Kevin Mendez-Diaz with nine points.
“This tournament (Covina) is more familiar to me than the Christmas tournament La Salle had in the past,” La Salle first-year coach Jelani Gardner said.
Jelani played with Bishop Amat during the 1990 and ’91 seasons in the Covina Christmas tournament.
La Salle was also keyed by its defense, which recorded 13 steals in the game, led by senior guard Israel Lacy with four and junior forward Conner Williams with three.
“We feed and score off of our defense,” Gardner said. “We don’t have too many guys who can create their own shot, so we need our defense to create our offense.”
After a quick Chargers 4-0 lead behind two layups by junior power forward Jose Bonilla, La Salle went on a 12-0 run to lead 12-4 late in the first quarter. Jackson and Acquuah had five and four points, respectively.
The Lancers took control in the second quarter with 21 points, highlighted by Acquuah’s nine points, six coming by way of two 3-pointers.
Charter Oak only trailed by five midway through the second quarter, 16-11, after a 5-0 run. Junior forward Chris Case scored on a short jump shot and a layup.
La Salle again outscored Charter Oak in the third quarter, 13-9, to take a commanding 20-point lead, 48-28 entering the final quarter.
The Chargers didn’t lie down in the final quarter, scoring 19 points, as they were led by nine points from Gutierrez, including two 3-pointers.
“For the most part we competed,” Charter Oak coach John Phillips said. “We battled and that’s all you can ask of them. Sometimes the shots will go and sometimes you’re going to run across better athletes.”
Los Altos, a 41-38 first-round winner over San Gabriel, will play California, a 74-27 winner over Azusa, today at 4 p.m. in a quarterfinal game; Northview, a 57-48 winner over Mountain View, will play Damien, a 90-24 winner over Sierra Vista, in a 5:30 quarterfinal game and Bishop Amat, a 50-44 winner over South Hills, will play Rowland, a 70-24 winner over South El Monte, at 7.
Rowland 72, South El Monte 24
The Raiders (8-3) were led by Joe Dionosio, who scored a game-high 19 points.
Chris Arzadon added 14 points and four assists.
Rick Natividad topped South El Monte (1-10) with 10 points.
Walnut 72, Serrano 44
The Mustangs led 27-22 at the half and then used a 24-9 third-quarter advantage to pull away for an easy win.
Walnut was led by Jeff Wong with 17 points. L.J. Besong added 10 points and four assists.