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No. 4 JSerra has no answer for St. John Bosco
BELLFLOWER – JSerra began the week ranked No. 4 in the county. The Lions finished it in fifth place in the Trinity League.
JSerra lost its third league game in a row with a 77-68 defeat to St. John Bosco of Bellflower on Friday night at St. John Bosco.
"On paper, they're probably one of the best teams in the state," JSerra coach Joedy Gardner said of the Braves. "They really run the floor."
Not even UTEP-bound Isaac Hamilton coming off the bench and playing limited minutes because of the flu could slow down the top-ranked team in CIF-SS Division 3A.
The Braves (16-4, 6-1 Trinity League) built a double-digit lead in the first quarter and held JSerra (12-7, 2-5) to 28.6 percent shooting in the first half. Bosco coach Derrick Taylor said his team took notice of JSerra nearly beating Mater Dei in double-overtime last week.
"That put us on a real heightened sense of alert," Taylor said. "We knew they'd gotten even better since we played them. We were focused tonight."
Braves guard Tyler Dorsey led all scorers with 27 points, making 15 of 17 free throws, including 10 in the fourth quarter. Forward Daniel Hamilton had 20 points, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from near halfcourt to extend the Braves' lead back to 10. Center Devin Burleson aptly used his 6-foot-9 frame to block three shots and pester the Lions inside throughout.
"It was a team effort," Taylor said. "Daniel was sensational. Tyler Dorsey was special. The quiet dominant person was Devin Burleson. Defensively, he did everything for us."
JSerra guard Johnnie Vassar had a team-high 17 points, forward Jamal Aytes had 15 and guard Rex Pflueger had 13. Successive shots by Vassar and Devon Pflueger to open the fourth quarter cut the Braves' lead to six. Bosco then went on a 12-5 run and sealed the victory at the free-throw line.
The Lions still can earn one of the league's three automatic bids, sitting a game behind Orange Lutheran and Servite with games against each team. If not, the Lions' current No. 3 ranking in CIF-SS Division 4AA makes them likely to receive an at-large bid.
"We're knocking on the door," said Gardner, whose Lions fell to the Braves by 16 in early January. "We played them much better this time. Our transition defense was much better."
First place in the Trinity League will be on the line Wednesday night when Bosco travels to Mater Dei.
"We're always ready for that," Taylor said. "They're the king of the hill. We want to take our shot.
"What I find amazing about their program is that they've been taking everybody's best shot for almost 30 years and they still win."
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