Trailing 62-54 in the fourth quarter, Lawndale Coach Alex Acosta told his team to come out aggressive and focused, hoping to avoid playing their last game at home.
Consider the message delivered as they opened the quarter on 12-3 run and held off Estancia and their hot shooting senior guard Troy McClanahan to win their thrilling Division IV-A playoff opener 72-71.
McClanahan, who scored on 38 points on 12 3-pointers, had a chance to win with 1.4 seconds left but his shot from the top of the key missed. It was his first miss of the second half.
“I don’t think he hit the rim all night until then,” Acosta said, breathing a sigh of relief, “But we’ll take whatever we can get and move on.”
Marquel Jones led Lawndale (19-6) with 24 points while Markeith Cungious had 23 points, 15 rebounds and six blocks for the Cardinals.
Cardinals senior John Williams chipped in with 16 – including two late 3-pointers in the final minute to push Lawndale to a 72-68 lead – while he and Carlton Calloway played solid defense on McClanahan in the fourth quarter.
Estancia made their final push after Jones missed three free-throws in the final 30 seconds, closing the gap to one on McClanahan’s final three-pointer of the evening. On their final possession, their last-ditch lay-up was blocked by Cungious but as Cungious grabbed the rebound, he was called for traveling, setting up the final shot.
It’s the second playoff victory for Lawndale since the school reopened six years ago. Their next game will be Friday at Chaminade.
Southern Section Playoff Results (Boys – 1st Round)
Lynwood 73, Palmdale 60
Long Beach Poly 59, Montebello 36
Long Beach Jordan 82, Bell Gardens 59
Pasadena 72, Vista Murrieta 63
Long Beach Wilson 65, Oxnard 49
Dominguez 93, Miller 63
Redondo 68, Burbank 58
Leuzinger 86, Servite 38
Simi Valley 66, Compton 62
Campbell Hall 72, Antelope Valley 59
Inglewood 69, Bosco Tech 16
Compton Centennial 69, Gladstone 41
Gardena Serra 67, Alemany 53
Price 73, Whittier Christian 45
Lawndale 72, Estancia 71
Verbum Dei 58, Silver Valley 28
Windward 85, Bishop Diego 21