Griffins reach finals of Harris Classic

Los Alamitos boys basketball team opens season 3-1

Kaden Kent, who led the Griffins in scoring against Dominguez, fires a pass to a teammate during Los Al’s win over the Dons. Photo by Ted Apodaca

The Los Alamitos High boys basketball team reached the championship game of the Jim Harris Classic Tournament before falling to Mira Costa, 53-45 in the finals on Saturday at Ocean View High. Kaden Kent led the Griffins with 12 points, and along with KJ Carr was named to the all-tournament team.

The Griffins (3-1) reached the final with a 61-50 win over Dominguez High on Friday. Kent again led the offense with 20 points, including eight in the fourth quarter when the Griffins iced the game. In their first week of the season, the Griffins are showing that scoring points might be the least of their challenges this season.

“We share the ball well, have a lot of different guys who can score, I think we’re three games in with three different leading scorers,” Head Coach Nate Berger said after the Dominguez win.

The Griffins have several returning players from last year’s abbreviated season that saw Los Alamitos fall short in a second round playoff game to a team that eventually got to the finals. Berger said that has put a bit of a chip on the shoulders of the team. Defense and tempo will be strengths for Griffins this year, but Berger said they have to avoid letting up-tempo play turn into sloppiness.

“I think we are a team that can play fast, but got a little caught up playing too fast tonight, so learning that balance of a playing controlled chaos is kind of our M.O. moving forward,” Berger said.

Los Al led 38-31 at the end of the third quarter but the Dons hit consecutive three-pointers that cut the lead to 41-37 early in the fourth.

From there the Griffins went on a 10-0 run to regain control. Christian Bermudez started the run with a three-pointer and followed that with a layup inside to push the Los Al lead to 46-37. Kent then hit a three pointer and followed that with a steal and breakaway for a layup that pushed the Griffin lead to 51-37.

Dominguez tried to fight back, but the Griffins were able to answer and keep the lead comfortable. Daniel Mellgoza had an open layup after cutting through the key to take a bounce pass from Bermudez. Maddox Monson hit a baseline three pointer to push the Griffin lead to 56-41.

After Dominguez converted a three-point play and made a defensive stop, Tyler Mathews and Jake Petroff trapped a Dons player at halfcourt and forced a turnover that Matthews took in for a layup that essentially put the game out of reach.