Jackrabbits’ offense prevails vs. Eagles

If the final score was any indication, the semifinal matchup between Etiwanda and Long Beach Poly was all defense, all the time.

In an electric atmosphere worthy of the playoffs, the Jackrabbits kept the Eagles at bay in a 56-47 victory.

“Another dogfight with Etiwanda. I think it was everything that everyone thought it would be, a defensive showboat,” said Jackrabbit head coach Sharrief Metoyer. “I think it was a typical Poly-Etiwanda battle. It was not pretty.

“We mirror each other so you’re going to see games like that from Etiwanda and Poly.”

Poly out-rebound Etiwanda by 11 in the first half but were a modest 10-of-18 from the floor (35.7 percent) and held a 25-19 lead at halftime.  

No individual broke double figures until Poly’s Roschon Prince finally scored his 10th point in the third quarter. He finished the night with a game-high 22 points and 10 rebounds.

The Jackrabbits and Eagles kept pace in the third, with Poly entering the final quarter with a 37-31 lead.

It appeared a momentum shift was in the works when Etiwanda sophomore sensation Jordan McLaughlin went for a layup on a fast break only to have Jordan Bell bat it down in what looked close enough to be called goaltending. The play ignited the Etiwanda crowd.

“It certainly would have been nice to have gotten that call. It would have cut their lead to two points. I was planning on calling a timeout if they had scored right there. Setting up our defense to get a stop right there, that would have made a big difference,” said Etiwanda head coach Dave Klecner. “No call on that. They go down to score a bucket and it goes from a two-point game to a six-point game. That was a very critical point.”

McLaughlin, who finished the night with 17 points, admitted that Bell gave him and the team trouble the whole night.

“His long arms and his tallness made us change our shots so we weren’t able to do the shots that we wanted to do. He made our shots harder,” said McLaughlin.

Numbers never lie and the final stats for this game revealed the true story. Though both teams performed well defensively, Poly’s offense was just that much better. They out-rebounded Etiwanda by 20. Neither team had a prolific night offensively, but Poly managed to shoot 38.3 percent to Etiwanda’s 32.7 percent.

“We got out-muscled on the boards, gave up some unfortunate offensive rebounds on the foul line and ran out of a little bit of gas in the fourth quarter. But I really thought our kids played with tremendous heart and battled and battled,” said Kleckner.

Long Beach Poly now will go on to face Mater Dei, which beat rival Loyola in the other CIF-SS semifinal.