CIF boys' basketball: Desert Chapel gets past Joshua Springs

CIF boys' basketball: Desert Chapel gets past Joshua Springs

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CIF boys' basketball: Desert Chapel gets past Joshua Springs

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PALM SPRINGS

Back-to-back appearances in the CIF Division VI final four wasn’t good enough for the Desert Chapel High School boys’ basketball team.

While earning Cinderella team status last season, making the playoffs as a wild-card and running all the way to the semifinals, the Eagles were determined to stay on top and go out on top this year.

After Friday night’s semifinal shootout against arch-rival Joshua Springs, the Eagles are heading to the championship game following the 86-73 victory.

No. 2-ranked Desert Chapel (23-4) will battle No. 1 Trinity Classical Academy for the title. The game will be either March 7 or March 8 at Santa Ana’s Godinez High or Azusa Pacific University. That, along with the start time, will be determined by CIF on Tuesday.

On Friday in front of a home crowd and packed house, the Eagles came out fast and furious and never let down. Desert Chapel got a game-high 29 points from senior Jaleel Miles, and 23 apiece from seniors Roman Pellum and Taner Alvarez and never trailed.

“The coach wants us to push the ball, that’s our game plan,” said Miles, the Desert Hot Springs transfer who finished with 16 in the first half. “That’s where we’re most productive, getting to the basket, whether it’s the transition or the halfcourt game. We want to keep things going really quick. We wanted to get to the championship so we wanted to make that extra effort and get on the floor sometimes.”

Coach Alfonso Alvarez noted the intensity, the rivalry and a different Joshua Springs squad on this night. It was former Victory League rivals. No. 2 vs. No. 3. The new Majestic League champion Eagles vs. the current Victory winners from Yucca Valley (21-5).

“They put 73 points on the board and they haven’t done that against a good team (Joshua Springs did it twice all year in lopsided wins),” said Alvarez. “It’s been a while, too, since we beat them (2010). We needed one of the big three to score big and they did.”

Whether it was ripping down rebounds under the basket, diving on the floor, making steals or transitioning, the Eagles were flying early. Desert Chapel led 17-9 with 3:08 to go in the first quarter when Miles scorched the Lightning defense with his first of four 3-pointers. The Eagles led 23-11 after one.

Late in the second quarter, Joshua Springs landed back to back 3’s to cut the deficit to 40-26, but a steal and easy layup for Alvarez, followed by another bucket from the senior when he grabbed his own rebound and laid it in, made it 44-28 with a minute remaining. Alvarez then put the final dagger in before half, nailing a 3, his second of three total, with five seconds remaining. The Eagles raced into the locker room with the 49-31 advantage.

The closest the Lightning would come in the third quarter was 10 points. Joshua Springs got a solid performance from Dylan Hadley, who recorded 12 first-half points and finished with a team-high 18, but it was the effort down the stretch from Seth Roses that gave the Lightning hope. Roses finished with 14, 11 in the second half.

Desert Chapel kept the pressure on with that 10-point lead with 3:12 to go when Alvarez tossed in another 3, then Max Casey hit back-to back 3s to close out the quarter, 66-52.

“We played our fast-paced game and we got the last word,” said Taner Alvarez. “We took the weight off our shoulders to not only play, but to compete for a championship. Now, we’re not going there to play, we’re going there to win.”

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