LOS ANGELES — “How ‘bout Jordan!”
Those three words exclaimed by Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) coach Doug Mitchell in the postgame press conference perfectly summed up how the No. 12 Knights upset No. 2 Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) in a CIF-SS Open Division semifinal Friday night at Galen Center.
Jordan Schakel, a 6-foot-5 small forward heading to San Diego State, scored 20 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter as Bishop Montgomery downed the Trailblazers, 70-63, advancing to the Open Division championship game next Saturday at Honda Center in Anaheim.
Bishop Montgomery (26-2) will face the winner of the second semifinal between Santa Ana Mater Dei and Chino Hills.
“It’s been a year where Jordan is recovering from injuries and he’s seemed to be getting closer and closer to (being healthy),” Mitchell said. “He missed some shots early, but they were deep in-and-out, and he stayed aggressive.”
Schakel had five points on just 2 of 10 shooting through the first three quarters before he went off in the fourth, at one point nailing three consecutive 3-pointers, including an off-balance leaner to give the Knights a 57-51 lead with 3:08 to play.
“That was probably the most amazing feeling of my basketball life,” Schakel said. “I just had to trust myself, the looks I was getting and follow through.”
Another player Bishop Montgomery was able to trust was one it has for much for the last four years, Oregon State-bound shooting guard Ethan Thompson.
Thompson scored 19 points with 12 of those coming in a strong first half effort for the Knights.
Bishop Montgomery jumped out of the gates with a 13-2 run, capitalizing on the open looks being given by a Sierra Canyon defense on its heels.
The Knights extended their first quarter advantage to 16, 20-4, on a 3-pointer from David Singleton, a basket from Fletcher Tynen and a layup from Josh Vazquez.
The Trailblazers (27-2) were able to settle down toward the end of the quarter, as Marvin Bagley III connected on a 3-pointer to cut Montgomery’s lead to 12, 25-13, at the end of one.
Bagley, who scored three points in the first quarter due to hard double teams from a disciplined Montgomery defense, came alive in the second, scoring eight in the period to help Sierra Canyon pull within seven, 37-30, at halftime.
“We went into the game thinking (the double teams) were going to happen,” Sierra Canyon coach Ty Nichols said. “We tried to send more cutters through and spread the double team, but they were effective.”
The Trailblazers were effective in the beginning of the second half, going on 13-2 run to take its first lead of the game, 43-39, after a 3-pointer and offensive rebound bucket from Bagley with 3:45 left in the third quarter.
The Knights didn’t panic, however, as Schakel and Thompson managed to settle things down over the last few minutes.
“They did a great job of withstanding our run,” Nichols said. “They made great plays down the stretch and are obviously a very well-coached team.”
Bagley finished with game high in points and rebounds with 28 and 12, respectively.