Van Nuys Wolves boys basketball kept rolling on Wednesday evening, with a 56-37 victory over the Los Angeles High Romans, setting up a semi-final date against the 7th seeded Garfield Bulldogs.
The Wolves Den was nearly packed at the tip, and the Wolves went straight to work. Stud senior guard, Tyree Winborn, opened up the contest with the first three baskets as Van Nuys jumped to an early 6-nil lead. Los Angeles wasn’t going to just lay down, as #12 (not listed on MaxPreps, as no Roman is) got the visitors on the board.
Joining Winborn on the stat sheet were Matthew Sykes and Ethan Quiambao, forcing a Roman time-out as the hosts jumped up to an early 12-4 advantage. Proper adjustments helped Los Angeles climb back into the game by scoring the last four points of the opening period, cutting the deficit to four, at 12-8.
Van Nuys came firing out of the gates to the start the second period, as Ray Gibson, a senior, came off the bench to score four along with Winborn and Sykes getting a field goal to fall, extending the lead to 20-8, forcing yet another visitors time-out. Sykes and Winborn extended it to 24-8, causing Coach Andrew Hunter to burn yet another time-out.
More of the same occurred out of this huddle, as Sykes and Gibson extended the lead to 28-8. Grit and resilience by the visitors lead to an and-one by #12 before Ariel Garcia drained a three, putting the Romans within 13 and in striking distance.
Scrappy play led to loose balls and an eventual technical foul on Winborn, to the dismay of Coach Evan Porter, as the Romans stepped up to the line and further chipped away at the lead, cutting it to single digits. After being benched for his outburst, Winborn checked back in and got a quick bucket, before the Romans got the final tally, as the hosts took a 30-21 lead into the break.
Coming out of the break, the Romans continued to sit in the 2-3 zone, which stifled the hosts and both sides struggled to get any sort of offensive momentum going. Quiambao started the scoring before the visitors Garcia drained one from three, forcing a Coach Porter time-out.
Josh Updegraph was able to get back-to-back steals, with one of the two being converted into a circus lay-up on the break. Garcia was able to get that one back, but not before Gibson converted an and one and a lay-in to end the quarter with a 39-28 Van Nuys lead.
Coming into the final period, all eyes were on Mijuhaim Mr. 4th Quarter Ali, after having scored 13 of his 16 points in the final period against the Lincoln Tigers.
Los Angeles got the quarter opened behind a shot from #10 before Ali got his first points of the night. Quiambao followed suite, forcing a Roman time-out. It did little good as the Wolves continued their aggression behind a Winborn three to extend the lead to 46-30.
Los Angeles went into the post and #42 got to the line, burying both without a second thought, keeping the visitors within striking distance. Winborn, not wanting this to be the last game of his prep career, converted an and-one, which was answered by Garcia’s three pointer, third of the game.
To no surprise for the home crowd, Ali got another bucket and followed it up with a three pointer to extend the lead to 54-37. Los Angeles got its final tally from #12 while Winborn capped the game with two free throws to give Van Nuys a 56-37 victory. I had this as 68-53 for the hosts.
Winborn lead the Wolves with 22 points, (unofficially) five assists and three steals. Ray Gibson chipped in with a dozen as Sykes gave his team eight. Quiambao had six to go with (unofficial) two steals. Ali scored all seven of his points in the final period, and has now scored 20 of 23 in the final eight minutes.
Garcia led the visitors with 15 points, while #12 had 14.
Around the Division:
Top seeded King/Drew held off the Grant Lancers with a 53-39 victory. The two sides were tied at 34 a piece with four minutes to go. King/Drew attempted 45 free throws to 10 by the visitors. I had pegged Grant to win 74-62.
Behind length and athleticism, the Hollywood Romans left the Valley with a 51-48 victory, behind an 18-8 start to the game. Junior guard Noah Mckenzie scored 16 for the hosts. Also scored this one wrong as a 72-65 win for the hosts.
Seventh seeded Garfield showed tough grit, upsetting the second seeded Marshall Barristers to walk away with a 59-55 victory. The Bulldogs trailed 45-27 midway through the third, but used a 20-6 fourth quarter to propel themselves to a 59-55 win and a date with the Wolves in the semis. I had Marshall by a 65-61 slim margin here.