Maybe it’s time we stop underrating the Narbonne basketball team.
The scouting report for the Gauchos in the beginning of every year is always something to the tune of, “Well, we need to see what they look like once they get their football guys back.”
But year after year, Narbonne shows that it’s a team that might bend but not break without its grid-hoop studs.
Such was the case Monday night in the Gauchos season-opener against an extremely talented Studio City Harvard-Westlake squad.
The Gauchos scored a strong 66-53 win over a slightly short-handed Wolverines squad. Harvard-Westlake played without sophomore Cassius Stanley, who sat due to concussion protocol after taking an elbow to the head during practice.
Narbonne coach Anthony Hilliard had his team prepared for battle from the outset as guards Jeremiah Galang and Abdul Bah came out in attack mode, helping the Gauchos take a 28-21 lead at the break.
Narbonne’s biggest advantage in the 13-point victory was its ability to defend the many perimeter threats that Harvard-Westlake presented
Galang finished with 20 points for the Gauchos, while senior guard Carter Begel had 13 for the Wolverines.
Harvard-Westlake debuted its acclaimed freshman class, led by Johnny Juzang, Mason Hooks and Terren Frank, all of who had good moments throughout the contest.
Lake Balboa Birmingham 73, Temecula Rancho Christian 54
The Patriots jumped out to an early 16-1 lead over the youth-laden Eagles and never looked back. Senior wing Devante Doutrive led Birmingham with 27 points and senior point guard Deschon Winston added 20. Sophomore forward Isaiah Mobley paced Rancho Christian with 13 points.
Oak Park 63, Compton Dominguez 51
The Eagles had too much size and discipline for the Dons in the wire-to-wire victory. Oak Park junior Riley Battin finished with 16 points and 16 rebounds, freshman Clark Slajchert added 19 and junior Wes Slajchert had 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Sophomore guard Sean Harltson scored 13 points for Dominguez.
Westchester 66, Lynwood 50
The Comets and Knights were competitive through two quarters with Westchester holding a 31-26 advantage at halftime, but Marquis Moore’s 20 points helped the Comets pull away in the second half. Junior Keith Carlton led Lynwood with 22 points.
Eastvale Roosevelt 65, Inglewood 53
The Mustangs held a double-digit lead throughout the second half thanks Cal State Fullerton-bound forward Matt Mitchell who finished with 34 points. Miles James finished with 10 points for Inglewood.
Redondo Union 66, Cerritos Gahr 59
The host Sea Hawks found themselves in one of the more competitive contests of the day, edging the Gladiators thanks to a number of big plays by Loyola Marymount-signee Ryse Williams. Williams finished with 19 points for Redondo, while his like-named opponent, Gary Williams, scored 23 for Gahr.
Long Beach Poly 69, Lakewood Mayfair 57
The upstart Monsoons gave the Jackrabbits a run for their money before Poly pulled away late, outscoring Mayfair 19-11 in the fourth quarter.
Santa Margarita 75, Rolling Hills Estates Peninsula 44
Peninsula wasn’t able to pull off the improbable upset it did at Pac Shores a year ago when it beat one of SoCal’s top teams in Encino Crespi. The Eagles combination of size and skill was far too much for Panthers to handle as Kaden Rasheed and Jake Kyman unloaded a 3-point barrage in the first half. Rasheed finished with 16 points for Santa Margarita. Wony’a Singleton led Peninsula with 12.
Quarterfinals (Main Gym)
Oak Park vs. Eastvale Roosevelt, 3:30 p.m.
Long Beach Poly vs. Westchester, 5:00 p.m.
Narbonne vs. Redondo, 6:30 p.m.
Santa Margarita vs. Birmingham, 8:00 p.m.
Consolation Bracket (Small Gym)
Mayfair vs. Lynwood, 3:00 p.m.
Dominguez vs. Inglewood, 4:30 p.m.
Harvard-Westlake vs. Gahr, 6:00 p.m.
Rancho Christian vs. Peninsula, 7:30 p.m.