NORWALK, Calif. – It was a highly anticipated showdown between two of the top teams in Southern California, and it certainly lived up to the hype. In a game that came down to the final possessions, the Sierra Canyon Trailblazers (10-2) had their winning streak snapped as they fell to the Bishop Montgomery Knights (13-0), 65-62 at the Nike Take Flight Challenge.
Up to that point, the Trailblazers had won nine consecutive games. Their last loss was on December 9th against Shadow Mountain.
While it was the second straight game that the Trailblazers have been at full strength with the return of junior guard Cassius Stanley, the Knights were down three starters due to injury: senior guard David Singleton, junior guard Gianni Hunt, and junior forward Will Crawford.
Although Sierra Canyon led for much of the second half, they were never able to close the door on Bishop Montgomery.
“We had the opportunity to close the game out and we didn’t,” head coach Andre Chevalier said after the game. “That speaks to our mental toughness. We’ll have to get better and be better at it.”
In a somewhat controversial moment near the end of the game, junior guard Scotty Pippen Jr. attacked the rim with the Trailblazers down 63-62. He collided with Knights junior guard Nick Schrader and was called for a charge forcing Sierra Canyon to foul the Knights intentionally.
Knights junior guard Josh Vazquez hit both free throws and Trailblazers junior forward K.J. Martin missed on a three-point shot to tie the game.
“I couldn’t see if he [Vazquez] was there in position or not, but he was definitely under the rim,” Chevalier said. “If you’re under the rim, I don’t know if they’re supposed to call charges but we just can’t leave anything in the referees’ hands.”
The Knights ended the game on a 10-0 run, which included a big three-point play by senior forward Fletcher Tynen that tied the game at 62. Tynen was a problem all night for the Trailblazers. He finished with a game-high 18 points.
“We’ll see how mentally tough they are, how composed they are, and how much of a unit they are,” Chevalier said on bouncing back after the tough loss.
The Trailblazers were led by Stanley’s 14 points. Pippen finished with 11, and Martin, senior guard Duane Washington, and sophomore forward Terren Frank all had ten each.