Third-quarter surge powers Los Alamitos basketball past Cypress

Lucas Gray, who led the Griffins with 19 points, drives the ball against the defense of Cypress’ Ethan Salao. Photo by Ted Apodaca

Los Alamitos went on a 19-7 run in the third quarter to erase a first half deficit as the Griffins went on to defeat Cypress, 68-55, in a non-league boys basketball game on Monday at Los Alamitos High.

Los Alamitos trailed 32-21 at halftime but turned the game around with stifling defense and the hot hand of Everett May. May scored all 15 of his points in the second half hitting four three pointers to spark the Griffins.

Junior guard Lucas Gray led the Griffins with 19 points and senior forward Hadi Essayli added 10, all in the second-half rally as well. Griffins Coach Eddie Courtemarche said Cypress is a physical, well-schooled team and that the Griffins did not match their intensity in the first half. Los Al was able to push back in the second half.

“In the second half, we got a group of guys to start us off, who really got physical and kind of knocked them off their game a little bit,” Courtemarche said.

Cypress actually scored first in the second half, pushing their lead to 34-21, but the Griffins found their rhythm after that. Essayli scored on a tip in off an offensive rebound and Gray followed that with his first three pointer to cut the lead to 34-26.

KJ Carr scored off an offensive rebound and Randall Leon followed with a three pointer to cut the Centurions lead to 34-32. Cypress pushed back with a baseline three pointer from Kody Papke and Kai Nagano and followed that with an offensive rebound and score to push the Centurions’ lead back to 39-32.

But the Griffins responded with an 8-0 run. May rebounded his own miss and put it in and got fouled. He hit the free throw for a traditional three-point play. On the defensive end, May blocked a shot to start a break. He then followed up the break to get an outlet pass at the top of the key where he hit another three pointer that cut the lead to 39-38. Gray hit a jumper that gave the Griffins their first lead at 40-39 at the end of the third quarter. It was a lead they would not relinquish again.

Cypress had jumped on the Griffins early. They led 6-0 after Kai Nagano hit two free throws. After Nagano hit a baseline three pointer he added two more free throws and the Centurions led 11-2. After Gray scored for Los Al, Christian Chai hit a three pointer for Cypress. Papke followed with a three pointer and defensive pressure led to steal and layup for Ethan Salao that gave the Centurions an 18-4 lead.

Papke led Cypress with 13 points and Chai followed with 12. Nagano had nine and Salao added six. Cypress maintained a double-digit lead most of the second quarter, but could not hold off Los Al in the second half. 

“We’ve got a young group as far as guys playing, so we’re trying to learn how to win, taking care of the ball and making sure we bring the same energy in the second half as we did in the first,” Mitchell said.