TORANCE After the first meeting between the Sierra Canyon and Bishop Montgomery boys basketball teams, Saturday’s clash could have gone either way.
In the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Open Division playoffs, played at Bishop Montgomery, the Knights escaped with a two-point win in a game decided by a late Christian Jones basket.
Saturday, with a berth in the CIF SoCal Regional Division I finals on the line, any suspense was gone midway through the second quarter.
The third-seeded Trailblazers (23-10) opened the second quarter on a 14-2 run and never looked back.
In the end, Sierra Canyon left town with a 64-47 win over second-seeded Bishop Montgomery (28-5).
Sierra Canyon will face Notre Dame, the top seed, in the regional final Tuesday. This is the fifth appearance in six seasons for Sierra Canyon. Sierra Canyon and Notre Dame have played three times this season with Notre Dame winning all three games.
“Defensively, we were locked in,” Sierra Canyon coach Andre Chevalier said. “We had the opportunity to play them before and we kind of knew what their game plan was going to be. Their No. 24 (Xavier Edmonds) is a big part of what they do, so we tried to do everything we could to slow him down and hope they didn’t make 3s and that helped us a lot.”
Edmonds scored just two free throws and fouled out in the fourth quarter.
In the early stages of the game, the deep ball wasn’t falling for Bishop Montgomery, but several attempts seem to spin out of the rim, which only added to the frustrations.
The game was tied 8-8 after the first quarter, but Sierra Canyon’s took control with its fast start.
“Our team followed the game plan of playing defense, diving on the floor, for the first time in a long time,” Chevalier said. “It’s exciting to see where they’re going.”
The Knights went into halftime trailing 33-23 and late in the third quarter, Christian Jones hit a 3 to get the deficit back to 10 at 40-30. However, on the next trip down, Sierra Canyon’s Ashton Hardaway responded with a 3-pointer of his own and the Trailblazers would eventually take a 43-30 lead into the fourth quarter.
Sierra Canyon’s would stretch its lead to as high as 18 in the fourth quarter.
Bronny James led Sierra Canyon with 16 points, Noah Williams had 15 and Osiris Nalls had 14.
LaQwon Cole led Bishop Montgomery with 13 points
“We knew they would double (on Xavier Edmonds) and make it tough on him,” Bishop Montgomery coach Doug Mitchell said. “We just couldn’t make a shot. We were taking the right shots and thought we had the right guys taking them, but we couldn’t get anything to go down and we never got into any sort of rhythm.”
The Trailblazers had wins over Taft (84-47) and Etiwanda (61-55) to advance to Saturday’s regional semifinal.
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Bishop Montgomery had defeated Torrey Pines (81-53) and Rancho Christian (68-60).
“I thought we had plenty of opportunities to score points,” Mitchell said. “And I thought we were starting shoot it better, but the shots didn’t go down.”
In a Division IV regional semifinal, St. Bonaventure defeated San Pedro 71-66 in overtime.