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Grant boys basketball defeats Venice to repeat as City Division I champions

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PASADENA — The motivation was easy for Grant boys basketball player DJ Gains.

“We played Venice earlier in the year. We lost by four and I had zero points,” he said.

Gains went from zero to 29 in a hurry.

The senior guard erupted for 18 first-half points en route to a game-high 29 in the Lancers’ 63-53 win over Venice in the City Section Division I title game at Pasadena City College on Saturday afternoon.

After winning the program’s first-ever City title last year, Grant (21-10) lifted the Division I City crown for a second straight time,

DJ Gains is having quite the game. He’s up to 28 points. Grant leads Venice 57-48 with 3:25 to play. Division I City title on the line. pic.twitter.com/eEm7d3hRS8

— Tarek Fattal (@Tarek_Fattal) February 25, 2023

“Repeating is sweeter,” Gains said. “It solidifies Grant as a basketball program.”

Grant coach Tarek Abdelsameia used a 1-3-1 zone defense to neutralize Venice’s athleticism, including junior star Tyler Hunt. Hunt did end up with 19 points, but it was obvious the defensive game plan took him out of rhythm.

“It’s something we’ve been working on,” Abdelsameia said of zone defense. “We knew it would be something we could turn to and it worked tonight.”

Grant used a 9-0 run to start the fourth quarter and balloon its lead to 53-42 after a deep 3-pointer from Byron Mendez, who finished with 12 points. Dilyn Martin hit a 3-pointer right in front of the Lancers bench to make it 62-52 with 1:29 to play and put the game out of reach.

“The repeat is sweeter. Last year, people thought we caught lightning in a bottle. This shows were are a City power,” Abdelsameia said.

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