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Los Alamitos falls to Etiwanda in 1AA quarterfinals
RANCHO CUCAMONGA - The Etiwanda boys basketball team didn’t get a berth in the Open Division of the CIF-Southern Section playoffs.
But it got the next best thing, or something most might think is even better - the top seed in the Division 1AA bracket.
So far the Eagles have lived up to that billing. They chalked up a 69-54 over Los Alamitos on Tuesday in the quarterfinals, and earned a semifinal berth opposite Rancho Verde on Friday.
Rancho Verde defeated Calabasas, 71-57, on Tuesday night.
Etiwanda coach Dave Kleckner wasn’t surprised his team didn’t make he Open draw.
“We played a lot of those teams during the season and didn’t do so well. We’re just not big enough and physical enough to compete with those teams. Our guys look at this as another chance.”
The contest was a good for three and a half quarters with Etwianda (21-11) pulling away midway through the final quarter.
The first half featured four ties and seven lead changes and ended with the Eagles up, 30-26.
Etiwanda, the third-place team out of the Baseline League, took a 44-36 lead into the final quarter and the Griffins got within three, 47-44, on a bucket by junior forward Jacob Eyman with 5:51 left.
That was as close as the visitors would get. Etiwanda scored nine of the next 11 points, the first of those being a pair of free throws by Miles Oliver.
A 3-pointer by Xavier Scott made it 54-46 with 4:34 left and the Eagles never looked back, securing the game late at the free-throw line. A jumper from the baseline by Kessler Edwards put the lead back in double digits for good.
Some of the Etiwanda players are using the Open snub as incentive.
“I wanted to play against the best and those teams are the best,” Oliver said. “We have some hungry cats in there and we want to go out and show everyone what we can do.”
Oliver led all scorers with 22 but after that it was the usual Etiwanda balance. Krystian Wilson had 11 while Scott and Edwards added 10 each. Edwards also had a team-high nine rebounds with three blocks.
Etiwanda played without junior guard Elijah Harkless, perhaps its top defender. He was ejected from the last playoff game after a scramble for a loose ball and had to sit out the contest. He will be eligible to return Friday.
Los Alamitos (22-7) , which tied for first place in the Sunset League, was led by Joseph Riley with 17 points and Zach Ruiz with 15. Eyman had 13 with a team-high 12 rebounds.
Coach Eddie Courtemarche was pleased with how his team finished the season.
“We over came a lot of adversity. We had injuries, really a little bit of everything,” he said, “If you would have told me we’d be here playing the No. 1 team in this round, I would have taken that.”