HUNTINGTON BEACH — All week long at practice, the Sage Hill School boys' basketball team had worked on a game-plan that had to do with stopping, well, attempting to contain, perhaps, Brethren Christian's Mamadou Ndiaye.
When the Lightning arrived Friday at Ocean View High for their Academy League encounter with the Warriors, it was then that Coach Jeff Beeler learned that BC's star 7-foot-5 center didn't suit up for the game. The UC Irvine signee, he was told, was out with the flu.
Ndiaye, who is averaging 25 points and 13 rebounds a game, hadn't practiced all week due to illness, Brethren Christian Coach Jon Bahnsen said. Also sophomore guard Brandon Bryson, who is the court leader for the Warriors, also had been ill all week but did play in the game.
"I had heard that he [Ndiaye] wasn't playing only when we got to the gym," Beeler said. "We had four days of practice, working on ways to guard him . It does alter your game plan, somewhat."
Sage Hill stayed with Brethren Christian early but dry spells in three different quarters led to the Lightning's demise. The league-leading Warriors, ranked fourth in CIF Southern Section Division 5-AA, came away with a 64-53 victory as both teams completed the first round of league play.
The Lightning, who dropped their third consecutive league game in falling to 2-3 in league and 9-11 overall, trailed by 23 points (54-31), with 2:12 remaining in the third quarter. They came back, however, with a spirited run that resulted in 13-straight points, and it trimmed the Warriors' lead to 54-44, with 6:02 left in the game.
The comeback started with back-to-back three-point shots by guard Eric Zhang to close out the third quarter, included a three-point shot by guard Mario Nark, his only points of the game, and ended when a steal by guard Harrison Ray led to a driving layup by guard C.J. McCord. But over the course of the next four minutes, the Lightning went without a basket.
Before guard Krishan Tarsadia scored on a jumper with 2:01 left, Brethren Christian had gone on a 10-0 run to build the lead back up to 20, 64-44. A free throw by Tarsadia and two foul shots by forward Parker Reposa, preceded Tarsadia's basket. Two layups by McCord in the final minute closed out the scoring.
A see-saw first quarter ended with Brethren Christian (16-3, 5-0) scoring the final four points over the final 26 seconds, for a 23-20 lead. A driving shot by Sage Hill guard Jack Williamson 10 seconds into the second quarter made it 23-22, but the Lightning would suffer their first drought of the night after the score. They went 5 minutes, 15 seconds until their next basket, a twisting layup by Williamson. It drew the Lightning to within 35-27.
The Warriors, though, had gone on an 11-2 tear to end the half which included scoring the final five points. The finish gave them a 40-27 lead at the break. They used a 9-0 run early in the second half to open up 49-29 lead with 4:21 left in the quarter.
"The second quarter in games traditionally have been tough for us, for some reason," Beeler said. "We weren't hitting our shots, we couldn't get our transition game going, and things were getting a little hectic. But I was proud of the way our kids kept fighting.
"We trailed big early in the second half but I was happy that we continued to fight and never stopped playing. I just told them to finish the game hard, and play through to the final buzzer. They did that."
Williamson led Sage Hill with 11 points, all coming in the first half. Tarsadia scored nine points and McCord finished with eight.
Brethren Christian freshman forward Cameron Griffin led all scorers with 16 points.
Huntington Beach 67, Fountain Valley 52
Edison 60, Newport Harbor 58
Los Alamitos 57, Marina 44
Golden West League
Ocean View 70, Santa Ana 30