Redondo Union’s Ryan Reeves, Jeremiah Headley and Ian Fox watch their season come to and end after posting a 25-6 record. Photo by Ray Vidal
Sophomore Leland Green scored 16 points in the Sea Hawk’s loss to Westchester. Photo by Ray Vidal
With a chance to play in the Southern California Regional Finals, the Redondo Union Sea Hawk’s comeback fell short as they lost their first home game of the year to the Westchester Comets 76-67.
The Comets came out firing in front of the filled Sea Hawk Pavilion crowd, quickly jumping out to a 9-2 lead.
The home team fought back to tie the game at 19 at the end of the first quarter, thanks to Leland Green and Elijah Nesbit. Down 12-4, Nesbit hit a 3-pointer, and then Green made a layup on a fast break to cut the lead to three. After Westchester hit their own 3-pointer to extend their lead to six, Nesbit responded with a three of his own.
On Redondo’s final possession of the quarter, Green banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to even the game at 19. Green tied for a team high 16 points for the game, while Nesbit had 10 points.
The second quarter was one to forget for Redondo as the Comet’s Elijah Stewart could not miss.
Senior Ian Fox left everything on the court as his prep career came to an end. Photo by Ray Vidal
Westchester quickly started off the quarter on a 10-0 run behind one of Stewart’s three 3-pointers in the quarter. He had four for the game.
The buckets continued as the Comets expanded their lead to 41-23. Stewart made 13 of his first half 18 points in the quarter propelling Westchester to a 44-28 halftime lead.
“They made nine threes in the first half, and I would dare say seven or eight of them were contested,” Redondo coach Reggie Morris Jr. said. “When they make shots like that, what else could you do?”
The Sea Hawks came out in the third with new energy and started their comeback trail when Green hit one from beyond the arc that got the home crowd back in it. They were able to cut the deficit to seven after Cameron Williams’ basket, but Westchester retook control and ended the quarter on a 10-2 run. They led 57-42 going into the fourth.
The Comets continued their run, expanding the lead to 20 with 6:37 remaining, but the Sea Hawks were far from done.
Ian Fox led the attempted comeback with 10 points in the quarter. With every basket the home team made, the crowd got more into it questioning every call against them, and cheering loudly every time their team got closer.
Cameron High got the Sea Hawks within single digits with a three with 4:18 left in the game. Green cut it to seven with a basket capping the run at 17-4.
“I’m proud of my guys for fighting back because we could have laid down,” Morris said. “We kept on fighting and competing.”
Redondo five-foot-two sophomore Elijah Nesbit chipped with 10 points. Photo by Ray Vidal
On the Comets next possession, High, who was in foul trouble all night, took a charge but Redondo could not capitalize. They came up empty on their next two possessions allowing the visitors to expand their lead to 11 with two minutes on the clock.
But Redondo’s six-foot senior leader did not give up. Fox hit a three with 1:40 left and Terrell Carter hit two free throws with one-minute left to cut the lead to six.
Westchester hit their free throws down the stretch to eliminate the Sea Hawks and move into the regional finals.
Stewart finished with a game-high 30 points.
“It’s been a great run,” Morris told his seniors on the team. “It has been a great first two years of our tenure and I’m proud of all they’ve accomplished, particularly (Fox.) Coming from a 10-18 team and being able to say two undefeated league championships… He played tonight’s game with a ton of heart like he always does.”
This was Fox’s last game playing at Sea Hawk Pavilion and was emotional after the loss. Redondo finished with a 25-6 record and a Bay League championship.
“It’s a terrible feeling, but I’m really proud of what I started here at Redondo.” Fox said. “I learned a lot of lessons here, I grew as a player and a person and I wouldn’t take back anything at Redondo for the world.”
Fox was very proud of the team this year.
“We started off under the radar and nobody really thought we could get to where we did.” Fox said. “We fought every game. We wanted it more than anybody else. Nobody could say that any team had more heart than this team. We just fell short this year.”
Morris is optimistic about next year’s team.
“We are in the beginning aspects of our program,” he said. “We’re competing and playing hard and we have a lot of good young players. We look forward to next year.”
Westchester (30-6) will face top rated Mater Dei (33-0), which escaped with a 67-64 double overtime victory over Etiwanda, in the Southern California Regional Finals on Saturday at Citizen’s Business Bank Arena in Ontario with a trip to the state finals on the line. Tip-off is at 8 p.m.