PALM SPRINGS, Calif. –
The top seed in the MaxPreps Holiday Classic will play for the title Saturday night at Palm Desert High School, but the path to the final has been anything but easy for Fort Bend Travis (Richmond, Texas)
Trailing by seven points with less than six minutes remaining Friday night against unbeaten and national No. 19 Loyola (Los Angeles)
, Travis head coach Craig Brownson elected to sit hobbled star point guard Andrew Harrison
Needless to say, things looked dire for the No. 18-ranked Tigers (15-2).
But for the second day in a row in the desert, Aaron Harrison
– Andrew's identical twin – stepped up. Aaron scored 11 points in the final six minutes as part of a game-high 32 to lead Travis to a 67-64 win over Loyola, sending the Texas school to Saturday's final against Golden State dynasty Westchester (Los Angeles)
"He's the point guard and he runs the team," Aaron said of his brother, who is battling a nagging hamstring injury. "I just felt like I had to finish plays and take the game over and make sure we won the game."
Aaron Harrison, averaging 32.3 points per game through three games at the Classic, didn't make up for the loss of Andrew by himself. The Tigers received timely contributions from a number of unheralded role players.
"I'm very proud of our team," Brownson said. "Loyola is a great team and very well coached. We had lots of guys step up, Daniel Chika
, Chris Idi
with four big free throws down the stretch and Tyronne Jordan
with a big wide open (3-pointer)."
"They always step up," said Aaron Harrison, who will join his brother at Kentucky next season.
Junior point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright
was the sparkplug for Loyola (10-1), making plays off penetration and hitting clutch buckets en route to 18 points and 11 assists. Seven-foot star Thomas Welsh
(10 points, 15 rebounds) and Mtume Armour
(16 points) were also difference-makers for the Cubs, but Travis limited their other big scoring option, senior sharpshooter Trey Mason
, who finished with five points.
"We did a pretty good job on the defensive end stopping Mason," Brownson said. "He hit a big one that gave them the lead, but we did a great job of shutting him down, which was kind of the game plan."
Westchester (Los Angeles) 70,
Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood, Calif.) 59
One of California's most successful programs punched its ticket to Saturday's championship following a wild 32-minute ride against tournament darling Harvard-Westlake.
Westchester raced to a 21-3 lead to open the game, then relinquished the advantage entirely in the second half, then started an 18-2 run late in the third quarter that extended into the fourth to put Harvard-Westlake away.
"We dominated the game on the offensive glass early and after that it was a dogfight," Westchester head coach Ed Azzam said. "We played pretty good defense, and in the second half we started figuring out where their shooters were and guarding them."
The Comets – six-time state champions under Azzam – received a game-high 21 points from hard-nosed guard Matthew Grant
. The 6-2 senior is playing with a mask thanks to a broken nose suffered during a November alumni game.
"Matt's a good player. He's been steady for us defensively and offensively all year," Azzam said.
Harvard-Westlake missed the offensive production from junior Derick Newton
it enjoyed during a victory over Rainier Beach on Thursday. Newton finished with 11 points after going for 31 in the quarterfinals. Senior forward Clinton Hooks
tallied a team-high 15 for the Wolverines.
The Comets will meet Fort Bend Travis at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Palm Desert High School in the championship game.Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.) 65,
Rainier Beach (Seattle) 63
Miller Grove junior James Walker
converted a putback as the final second ticked away, lifting the Wolverines to their second win in three days at the event.
Georgia's four-time defending Class AAAA state champs appeared to net the go-ahead bucket with about 10 seconds left as a close attempt by Walker fell victim to a no-call goaltend.
After a miss by Rainier Beach, Miller Grove called a timeout and put the ball in the hands of Keith Pinckney
. The junior point guard put up an off-balance attempt that was cleaned up by Walker for the win.
"I knew I had to do something," Walker said. "I was just trying to be a part of the play and kept going, kept fighting."
Senior guard Kyre' Hamer
, who converted a pair of key buckets in the final minute, led Miller Grove with 20 points.Shaqquan Aaron
, a 6-7 guard ranked among the Top 20 prospects nationally in the junior class, countered with a team-high 19 points for Rainier Beach (6-3).
Miller Grove lost a number of key seniors from a year ago, including 6-9 UCLA freshman Tony Parker. But the Wolverines are now 13-3 with a chance to head back to the Peach State with a 3-1 record at the Classic.
"Everybody assumed we would be down I guess, but we have lost guys every year like Henry Brooks, Donte Williams, Mfon Udofia," Miller Grove head coach Sharman White said. "We are used to stacking the deck back up and making kids understand it's a tradition here and we play for championships."De La Salle (Chicago) 61, Antelope (Calif.) 57
The combination of Marcus White
and Minnesota-bound Alvin Ellis
caught fire late, helping the Meteors erase a 15-point deficit in the second half.
White, a slight but sharpshooting 5-11 guard, finished with 22 points while Ellis added 18. De La Salle trailed 35-21 at halftime but rattled off a 14-0 run in the third quarter to tie the game at 39.
Senior wing Gabe Bealer
notched a team-high 22 points for Antelope.
De La Salle will play Miller Grove Friday at 10 a.m. for fifth place.Saturday's Invitational Division ScheduleAt Palm Desert High School
10 a.m. – 5th: De La Salle vs. Miller Grove
11:30 a.m. – Consolation: Leuzinger (Lawndale, Calif.)
vs. Orange Lutheran (Calif.)
5:50 p.m. – 3rd: Harvard-Westlake vs. Loyola
7:30 p.m. – Championship: Fort Bend Travis vs. WestchesterAt College of the Desert
11 a.m. – 15th: Dorsey (Los Angeles)
vs. Madison Ridgeland Academy (Miss.)
12:30 p.m. – 13th: Bellevue (Wash.)
vs. O'Dea (Seattle)
2 p.m. – 11th: Cardinal Hayes (Bronx, N.Y.)
vs. Miller (Fontana, Calif.)
3:30 p.m. – 7th: Antelope vs. Rainier Beach