By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
The Workman High School boys basketball team dominated the Montview League so thoroughly it wasn’t in many close games like it was late in the second half against visiting Cerritos Valley Christian in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 4AA playoffs on Wednesday.
But Workman pulled it out hitting clutch free throws down the stretch and getting crucial stops to squeeze out a 60-53 victory.
In what has been a record-breaking season of school victories for the Lobos, it almost ended too quick after a 14-point halftime lead was trimmed to one with 2:35 left after the Crusaders’ Chris Miller sank a pair of free throws to make it 50-49. (To continue click thread)
CIF-SS Boys Basketball
Wednesday’s first-round results
Bonita 54, South Torrance 40
Claremont 60, Apple Valley 50
Servite 60, Arroyo 47
Esperanza 76, Sierra Vista 41
Diamond Ranch 68, La Puente 38
Wilson 58, Irvine 39
Damien 74, Los Amigos 28
Burroughs/Ridgecrest 68, Northview 55
Bishop Amat 52, South El Monte 38
Barstow 41, Gladstone 38
Santa Paula 61, Mountain View 51
Covina 75, Antelope Valley 62
San Dimas 74, Pioneer 63
La Verne Lutheran 83, Milken Community 36
Workman 60, Cerritos Valley Christian 53
To make matters worse, the Lobos’ 6-foot-10 center Dan Solis fouled out by sending Miller to the line, which came just minutes after 6-foot-9 senior Mario Macias also fouled out, leaving the Lobos without their two dominant bigs.
But Workman sharpshooter Osnar Garcia took over, attacking the basket and getting to the foul line. He made six straight free throws over the final two minutes and finished with a game-high 27 points.
Garcia and junior point guard John Paul Rodriguez each knocked down four 3-pointers, but they had to sweat it out as the Lobos improved to 26-1 — the most wins in school history.
Rodriguez finished with 16 points, hitting all four of his 3s in the first half to help the Lobos to a 35-21 halftime lead.
“It was difficult because it’s a CIF game,” Garcia said. “But we took care of business and we won.”
Solis only had six points and Macias three points, but they controlled the boards until the Crusaders started attacking the interior, drawing fouls and getting to the free-throw line.
The Crusaders sank 23 of 31 foul shots, getting a team-high 20 points from DJ Ahana.
“They’re (Crusaders) smart, they (attacked) and made that little run, but we practice to weather those storms and we have two smart guards (Garcia and Rodriguez) that controlled the game when they needed to,” Workman coach Martin Flores said. “After they cut it to one, we knew our defense had to get two or three stops and when we scored, that gave us the gap we needed. Our guys were confident they could pull it off.”
Workman’s reward is a second-round game against powerful third-seed JSerra, an 82-35 winner over Whitney at a site to be determined on Friday.
The Lobos, seeded 14th and in one of the most difficult divisions that also includes Price, La Verne Lutheran and top-seed Bishop Montgomery, knows it has an extremely difficult road compared to other area teams in much easier divisions.
But it is what it is.
“You saw signs that we have firepower to look good and can grind it out when it gets close,” Flores said. “I just hope we have the confidence we can play with whatever comes next.”
No matter what, it’s been some season.
“We’re real proud of it,” Flores said. “Even when I say 26-1 I’m like, wow. It’s a once in a generation season.”