By Alex Leichenger
In both size and skill, the boys’ basketball team finally met its match Saturday night in Taper Gymnasium, falling 61-45 in the state quarterfinals to La Verne Lutheran.
The Trojans’ big men, 6’9″ Grant Jerrett and 6’8″ Xavier Jones, contained their Wolverine counterparts, 6’8″ Zena Edosomwan ’12 and 6’7″ Damiene Cain ’11, and guard Carl Cooper led the way on the offensive end.
Cain tied a season-low with six points. Edosomwan scored 14 but had numerous shots blocked or altered by Jerrett and Jones. The Wolverines’ two other top scorers, Josh Hearlihy ’12 and Jordan Butler ’11, were also quiet with seven and six points, respectively.
Lutheran held the lead from the first basket until the final buzzer, but the game was a roller-coaster ride in between. A combination of Wolverine turnovers and control of the offensive glass by Lutheran put the Trojans up 9-0 in the first quarter. But the Wolverines battled back and were within six at halftime.
The third quarter started in a very similar manner as the first quarter, with the Wolverines again held scoreless for the first four minutes. Lutheran extended its lead to 35-20 before fullcourt pressure by the Wolverines and big plays by Cain on both ends of the floor sparked a 14-0 run. Butler delivered the exclamation point by banking in a three-pointer over the outstreched arms of a Lutheran defender at the buzzer, adding to his recent string of end-of-quarter heroics.
But Lutheran continued to outrebound the Wolverines in the fourth quarter, and Edosomwan missed several shot attempts in the low post. The Trojans opened a 20-4 run to dash any hopes of a comeback win for the Wolverines.
For the last 1:30 of the game, Head Coach Greg Hilliard substituted senior reserves Noor Fateh, Daniel Iyayi, David Burton, Lewis Dix and Adel Kamal for the starters. Kamal scored five points in the final minute.
Lutheran will play in the state semifinals next Saturday at USC’s Galen Center.
The Wolverines ended their season with a 29-5 record.