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BILL ALKOFER , STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Los Alamitos' Pepe Garcia struggles for a rebound with Esperanza's Kezie Okpala during Friday's game.

Los Al's Worku takes over in win against Esperanza

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

ANAHEIM - Los Alamitos senior Eyassu Worku has had many memorable nights on the court.

The slippery shooting guard can create his shot with the best of them, and Friday night, he posted his best performance to date.

Worku exploded for a career-high 39 points in leading the fourth-ranked Griffins over host Esperanza, 80-62, in the Canyon/Esperanza Tip-Off Classic.

The Griffins (3-1) will oppose No. 7 Servite in the third-place game Saturday night. The game, which is at Esperanza High, will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Los Alamitos had suffered a two-point defeat to Long Beach Jordan early in the tournament. Worku said his mother gave him a motivational speech after that game, and it made him want to take over games.

In the two games since, the UC Irvine signee has certainly done so, posting double-doubles in each contest. He had 25 points and 12 rebounds in a 74-50 win over Sonora. Friday night, he had 11 rebounds and four assists to go with his 39-point effort.

“She told me that it is my senior year,” an inspired Worku said. “I have to do what I have to do to get this team to win. This game was big for us. We’re trying to have a special year.”

Center Conner Goen had 11 points and Pepe Garcia added 10 for the Griffins, who led by a comfortable double-digit margin throughout the second half.

“We always want to try to push the tempo,” Griffins coach Eddie Courtemarche said of his team’s transition attack. “We want to get going north and south.”

On any other night, Esperanza’s Kezie Okpala might have been the star of the game. The 6-foot-6, 175-pound junior displayed a variety of high-post moves in scoring 30 points. He added eight rebounds, three steals, and three assists.

The eighth-ranked Aztecs (2-2) got secondary scoring from Travis Kettering (16 points) and Anthony Koclanakis (seven points). Esperanza will host Northwood at 4 p.m. Saturday in its final game of the tournament.

Also in the Tip-off Classic:

Sonora 38, Long Beach Jordan 36: Kevin Marlow had two 3-pointers in the final 1:25, including the game-winner with three seconds to go.

The Raiders (2-2) led, 22-12, at the half, but the Panthers (3-1) got into striking distance late. Torieaun Hilbert hit a put-back layup on his own free-throw miss to give Jordan a 36-35 lead with 13 seconds to go.


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