Small school champs make it two it in a row over LACES
Don’t look now but the most successful basketball power in the area isn’t Crenshaw or Dorsey – it’s tiny View Park Prep, who completed their second consecutive double sweep over LACES in the City Small Schools championship on Saturday.
The Lady Knights started it off with a 54-43 win while the boys took the harder route, winning 67-49 despite trailing 15-2 in the first quarter and being down by 14 late in the second.
Sophomore forward Bryce Jones led the comeback with a career-high 33 points off the bench as View Park had to change their strategy from a man-to-man press to a 3-2 zone to neutralize LACES’ hot outside shooting.
“Our style of game didn’t win the game for us,” Taylor said, “We switched to match-up zone and that made the difference.”
The Knights continued to chip into the lead and when they finally went ahead on a jumper by Donte Mitchell with 2:03 left in the third quarter, they never looked back.
Jones played sparingly in last year’s championship game but he took advantage of his opportunity from the minute he came in. His energy sparked the team to a more confident performance in the second half.
“I just wanted to come in and give my team a lift,” Jones said. “I wasn’t trying to force anything but if I had it, I was going to take it.”
When asked about Jones’ performance, Taylor added it could be a glimpse into things to come as he matures into one of the City’s rising talents.
“He’s got a chance to be a very good player at the Division I level,” he said.
The Lady Knights had a tougher outing in their rematch as well but still dominated from start to finish thanks to 16 points from junior forward Shaneva Hayward and 15 points from freshman guard Danielle Pruitt.
The win adds to the successful year for the Lady Knights, which included going undefeated in their inaugural year in the Coliseum League.
“The girls did a really good job, they came out here focused. They were a little nervous in the beginning but they were able to shake that off,“ head coach Denise Woods said.
The team may have benefitted this time from some insider information courtesy of Woods, a former USC standout. Woods brought in former USC players, among others, and held practices at junior colleges just to prepare them for the pressure and the size of the court.
The schools been open for five years but already they have six championships to their credit. Last school year, their football team won the CIF 8-man title and in addition to last year’s City basketball sweep, the boys also won the Southern California regional championship.
Throw in the back-to-back titles and you have the makings of a program on the rise.
Last year, View Park was the first school to sweep championships in the same division since Crenshaw swept the 4A Division titles in 1997. Now with another double sweep and the Southern California regionals looming, this City coronation for the Knights will no doubt the second of many more to come.