Above: Whittier s Juan Quintero (#15)
makes a shot as they play Lawndale in the Championship game
of the Whittier High School Holiday Invitational on Thursday Dec. 29, 2011.
(SGVN/Staff Photo by Keith Durflinger/SPORTS)
Two years, two final-round losses for the Whittier boys basketball team, which lost Lawndale in the finals of its own tournament on Thursday.
The Whittier girls team suffered the same fate, losing to Campbell Hall in the semifinals at the Cantwell Tournament. The Cardinals finish the tourney against Rosemead in the third-place game at 6:30 p.m. tonight.
Here’s the game story from the Whittier boys game:
By John Sherrard Correspondent
WHITTIER – The Whittier High School boys basketball team knew it had a tall order – literally – in Lawndale on Thursday night in the title game of Whittier’s own Second Annual Holiday Invitational.
That tall order was 6-foot-7 freshman center Chimezie Metu. He was a factor in the middle early, but a balanced scoring attack led Lawndale to a 70-65 victory.
Lawndale (11-3) was led by three players in double figures. Chris Munoz, Lemar Young and Will Newman had 17, 16 and 11 points, respectively.
Young had all of his points in the second half.
Whittier (7-8), which trailed by 10 points in the third quarter, 44-34, whittled away at the lead and came within four points with less than a minute remaining in the game.
Senior guard Damien Salcedo hit a short jumper and knocked down two free throws to bring Whittier close, 67-63.
“You know, it’s tough, two years in a row in our own tournament,” Whittier coach Joey Mata said.
The Cardinals lost last year’s tournament championship game to Downey.
Salcedo had eight points in the fourth quarter and a game-high 22 points Thursday.
“He (Salcedo) played really well and he was our go-to guy (Thursday),” Mata said.
Whittier came out very aggressive on defense
and was not intimidated by Metu, who only had four points and one blocked shot. Metu came into the game with 22 blocked shots in 13 games this season.
Whittier took its first lead midway through the first quarter, 7-5, and built it up to six at 16-10. Senior guard Juan Quintero had five points, including a long 3-pointer.
Quintero finished with 14 points and senior guard Willie Pittman added 13.
In the second quarter, Lawndale erased the lead as junior point guard Nathan McAnally (nine points) contributed with three baskets to give Lawndale a 22-21 advantage with six minutes left before halftime.
Both teams traded baskets, but Quintero hit a long shot from beyond the arc to give Whittier a four-point lead, 32-28, with 1:04 left in the half. Whittier led at the half, 34-31.
Whittier’s next game is a nonleague contest at Whittier Christian next Friday.