ANAHEIM, Calif. — It took nearly every second of an exciting, back-and-forth battle between Westlake and Redondo Union to decide the winner, but in the end, Redondo Union outlasted the Warriors, winning the CIF Divison 2A Championship, Saturday afternoon at the Anaheim Convention Center.
While it wasn’t the prettiest win, the Sea Hawks, who drew the largest crowd of the early session, fended off two late Westlake runs to knock off the top-seeded team, 68-63.
“We win ugly, that’s how we play,” said head coach Reggie Morris. “Every game is about defense, and that was it was today. They are a great offensive team that averages 77 points per game. I can’t remember the last time we scored 70 points.”
The Sea Hawks (23-8) shot just 37.8 percent from the field and but did go 6-for-12 from behind the arc. The defense far out-hustled the opposition, out-rebounding Westlake 30-19 and forcing 15 turnovers.
A pair of guards, Chris Henderson and Derek Biale, did most of the damage for Redondo. Henderson scored a game-high 17 points and Biale finished with 15 to along with four assists.
Westlake (26-5) was led by Grant Lozoya’s 16-point, seven-rebound effort and Larry Bush’s 14 points.
It was a physical, fast-paced contest with bodies hitting the floor on both ends nearly every possession. The two played close in the first half, trading shots until the Sea Hawks pulled away late in the second quarter.
“I feel like in the first half we dug ourselves into a little bit of a hole,” said Westlake head coach Rob Bloom. “We gave Henderson and Biale too much freedom and let them take off in the first half.”
The run carried over into the third and Redondo built up a lead of as much as 10 early.
But Westlake jumped right back into the game, launching a furious rally of its own late in the quarter, coming back to within five.
In the fourth quarter, the Warriors run continued. With just over six minutes left in the fourth quarter, Westlake came back to tie the game at 52 after Bush knocked down two free throws. But Redondo then scored 10 unanswered points over the next four minutes.
“When they got up by 10 in the 3rd quarter we kind of got back to old habits,” Lozoya said.
Westlake came back once again, cutting the deficit to five with a minute left. But the Warriors failed to knock down free throws while the Sea Hawks defense was clutch.
“We’d like to think that if it’s going to come down to a defensive competition, our defense is going to hold up to anybody,” Morris said. “We trapped them and we played some zone, which probably they weren’t expecting. We play a lot of different defenses tonight we were able to use all of them.”
Morris was proud of how his team performed on a stage much bigger than what they typically play on.
“Playing in a arenas is a lot different than playing in high school gyms,” Morris said. “We’ve seen a lot of tough times, we’ve seen a lot of teams that are better than us, we’ve learned how to make ourselves win no matter what we have to do.”