Much returns, but JSerra can't keep up with Serra


GARDENA - On the surface, it appeared that all would be well for JSerra’s boys basketball team as it headed into its game against Serra of Gardena in the CIF-SS Division 4AA quarterfinals Tuesday.

After missing two games because of a concussion, Lions junior Sebastian Much was back in the lineup, and he didn’t disappoint. He finished with 24 points on a mix of dunks and jump shots.

However, the Lions fell behind midway through the first quarter and couldn’t overtake the Cavaliers, who held on for an 84-76 victory at Serra High.

“It is a different environment, No. 1, and their quickness bothered us a little bit and their athletic ability,” JSerra coach Joedy Gardner said. “Then we got in foul trouble and they just kept pushing it to the basket.

“What they did well in the first half, which I was sort of surprised about, is they really shot the ball well. We started off like we wanted to, getting the ball inside, then we got in foul trouble and got a little hesitant, and when you do that, you start thinking about the next pass and your shot and you come up short.”

The Lions trailed at halftime, 46-38, and heading into the fourth quarter, 63-59.

Early in the fourth, Alec Hickman’s 3-point play got the Lions to within one, but the fourth-seeded Cavaliers never wavered in their approach. They quickly built their lead back to seven, 76-69, after a 3-point basket from Micah Dykes.

“Our kids really worked hard and listened,” Serra assistant coach Bernard McCrumby said. “We were battle-tested and kind of ready for this moment to keep our composure and be able to pull it out down the stretch.”

Hickman found his rhythm in the second half. He led JSerra with 25 points.

“He hadn’t played in a couple weeks, so it took him the first half to really get the timing back,” Gardner said. “I thought he did in the second half. Alec started being more aggressive going to the basket and that created some free throws for him, which gave him some rhythm.”

Serra had five players with at least 11 points, led by Kobe Smith’s 17. Darien Guyton’s four 3-point field goals were also a big factor.

“We shot 58 percent from the free throw line, which wasn’t very good,” Gardner said. “We were out-rebounded by a couple and we had 18 turnovers and some of those were unforced.

“We had great effort in the game, but this team (Serra) hit shots and they had enough going to make those shots and hold on at the end.”

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