Sophomore Leland Green scored a team-high 21 points to lead Redondo Union to a 65-56 first-round win over Compton. Photo by Ray Vidal
In a physical, chippy fast-paced game between the athletic Compton Tarbabes and the defending state champion Redondo Union Sea Hawks, the sixth-seeded Sea Hawks won on their home floor 65-56 Friday in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Boys Basketball Open Division Championship.
The eleventh-seeded Tarbabes got out to a fast start scoring seven of the games first ten points, overcoming Redondo’s press and zone defense. Compton led 17-13 after the first quarter.
The Sea Hawks continued with their half-court press and changed to a man defense throughout the rest of the game and held the visitors to a total of 17 points in the second and third quarters combined.
“There was no big coaching strategy changes on the defensive end,” Redondo Union coach Reggie Morris Jr. said. “Instead of playing zone, we played man and they answered the challenge.”
The press allowed Redondo to get steals and buckets in transition. In a game with only four lead changes, sophomore Leland Green’s old-fashioned 3-point play gave the home team a 23-20 lead, the last lead change of the game with 3:16 remaining in the second quarter. Green finished with a team-high of 21 points, including two breakaway dunks that excited the packed crown in Sera Hawk Pavilion.
Redondo scored 12 of its 16 second-quarter points off Compton turnovers to take a 29-24 lead at halftime.
Compton kept the game competitive as they were only down double digits for a minimal period of time. Isaiah Bailey of Compton, who had a game-high 26 points, 15 of which came in the fourth quarter, cut the Sea Hawk’s lead to five with 2:15 left in the game.
Ian Fox, Redondo’s senior leader, made a 3-pointer in the next possession to expand the lead to eight. Fox then made two free throws after the Tarbabes’ empty possession giving the Sea Hawks an insurmountable lead of 63-53 with 1:15 left. Fox finished the game with 14 points.
“It was an adjustment as far as the guys matching up with Compton’s speed and intensity and they matched it,” Morris said in regards to his team’s slow start.
Elijah Nesbit, coming off the bench, provided the spark the team needed. The 5-foot-2 Nesbitt hit a 3-pointer to tie the game before Green put the team ahead for good and was involved in two scrums in result of fighting for the ball.
“It was really the intensity and trying to help my team win and pump them up,” Nesbitt said. “The first one, I kind of tripped over his head and he pushed me, but the second one, he just got in my face and I had to defend myself.”
During the second altercation, Nesbitt fell to the floor, and players had to be restrained from each other, which prompted the crowd on both sides to get on their feet. Technical fouls were assessed to both teams.
Morris believed Nesbitt was the sparkplug for the team and he deserved the extra minutes he received in the game.
Redondo big man Terrell Carter had 13 points, five rebounds and a block before fouling out with 2:15 left in the game.
Cameron Williams contributed six points and nine rebounds and Cameron High and Jeremiah Headley each added four points.
Redondo (23-4) will host No. 3 Loyola (25-2) in the quarterfinals on Friday at 7 p.m. The Cubs, who held off a 30-point fourth-quarter rally to defeat No. 14 St. John Bosco 70-67, are led by 7-foot center Thomas Welsh, of Redondo Beach, who scored 20 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in the first-round win.