ANAHEIM — The term “catfight” was used several times to describe Saturday afternoon’s Nike Extravaganza contest between San Juan Capistrano JSerra and Los Angeles Fairfax and it was a fairly accurate assessment. The game featured strong runs by both teams and a close game throughout nearly the entire contest, coming down to the final minute.
But in the battle between the Lions, it was the Fairfax Lions that were the last cats standing, outlasting JSerra for a 55-52 win.
Fairfax’s Jonathan Brown led the game with 17 points and five assists while teammate Reggie Theus Jr. scored 15 and pulled down seven boards.
For JSerra (13-8), Johnnie Vassar scored 16 and Rex Pflueger finished with 12 while Dylan Osetkowski scored nine with a game-high 10 rebounds.
Fairfax shot 40.1 percent from the field while holding Serra to just 31.5 percent.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well,” said head coach Joedy Gardner. “They played a tough zone, they played a lot more zone than I’ve ever seen a Fairfax team play. I don’t know if our outside shooters were bothered by the pressure but we could have shot the ball better.”
Fairfax (18-9) has now won three in a row and Theus feels the Lions are executing the zone better than they have all season.
“Our defense has the potential to be the best defense around,” he said.
“We’ve been playing zone well, and teams have been hurting,” Theus said. “The way we play zone, the way we talk, it’s fun. And we’ve been playing it well.”
JSerra had control of the game early on but Fairfax played close and tied it at 14 to end the first quarter. But a dismal second half in which JSerra scored only four points set the Lions back.
Fairfax broke away to go up by six in the second. Theus knocked down two free throws and Brown then rolled in a runner. After Theus hit two more from the stripe, Lindsey Drew capped a long possession with a layup to put Fairfax up 22-16.
JSerra made just one second-quarter field goal and Fairfax increased its lead to 26-18 at the half.
Serra made a strong comeback in the second half, coming back to tie the game at 36-all in the third. A foul with 0.8 seconds left in the third put Pflueger at the line, where he went 2-for-2 to bring JSerra back to just 1, 39-38.
The two battled through the fourth quarter but with around 30 seconds left, JSerra’s shooting woes came back to haunt them. They were able to get nothing out of a long possession, staying down by just three at the end of the buzzer.