San Gabriel Academy holds on to beat St. Anthony in MLK Classic

PASADENA, Calif. — There are always lessons to be learned on the basketball court and for San Gabriel Academy at the MLK Classic on Monday night at Maranatha, it was learning they could play without star guard Marcus LoVett Jr. — at least momentarily. 

"It’s a team game, baby," an enthusiastic San Gabriel head coach Kevin McCloskey said. "It’s a team game." 

With LoVett Jr. watching from the sideline after fouling out the Eagles still had enough punch to get past St. Anthony 52-47. 

It wasn’t pretty, by any means. With an opportunity to put the game away at the free-throw line, San Gabriel Academy (11-5) missed free throws down the stretch, giving St. Anthony life — eight out of 10 free throws, all told. 

St. Anthony (6-8) had an opportunity to tie the game, trailing 50-47. Justin Frazier had a good look at a three from the left corner but his 3-point attempt was long. 

Meanwhile, LoVett Jr. watched. Although he was responsible for getting the Eagles back in the game.

They appeared to be bothered by the Saints 2-2-1 full court press and the traps that generated as a result. 

LoVett Jr. took over the game as a one-man press break and began attacking the St. Anthony defense. 

It wasn’t his best shooting night. He only made five field goals on the night but was a perfect 10-for-10 from the free-throw line for a game-high 20 points. The Saints held him below his 28.3 average but his 10 in the second half helped change the fortunes of San Gabriel Academy. 

In the midst of a run, LoVett Jr. knifed his way through the Saints’ pressure and found Joshua Ajayi for a lob dunk. 

The basket was waived, however, after LoVett Jr. was called for a charge. That was his fifth foul and he was forced to spend the final 1:26 as a spectator with the Eagles up 48-44. 

Meanwhile, the Saints had their own foul issues. Starters LaRond Williams and Dontae Caldwell both fouled out of the game. Williams and Jonathon Ross sat nearly the entire first half after picking up two early fouls each in the first quarter.

Still, St. Anthony, thanks to a 7-0 run to end the first quarter, led 15-10 at the end of one.  

They took a 24-22 lead into the locker room at halftime. And thanks to a Frazier 3-pointer to beat the buzzer at the end of the third quarter, led by six going into the fourth. 

With their leader on the bench for the final 86 seconds, the Eagles did just enough. 

"It wasn’t a pretty game but sometimes for a coach those are the (most fun) — the ones you grind out," McCloskey said. 

On the girls side, Mark Keppel (18-1) defeated Lawndale (11-8) 58-21. Kelli Kamida knocked down four 3-pointers for 12 points to lead the Lady Aztecs. Viviana Garcia and Arin Lee had 11 each.