Buzzer beater eliminates Gardena High

By Joe Snyder

Photo by Joe Snyder lONG SHOT—Gardena High’s Willie Denham attempts a shot as he is defended by Crenshaw’s A.J. Robinson in last Friday’s CIF-L.A. City Section Division I boys’ basketball quarterfinal. The Panthers were eliminated ÅΩby theÅ Cougars 50-49 in Robinson’s buzzer beater.

A buzzer beating hook shot by Crenshaw High’s A.J. Robinson ended Gardena High’s boys’ basketball season as the Panthers were nudged out by the Cougars 50-49 in the quarterfinals of the CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division I playoffs last Friday at Gardena.Panthers appeared to have the game well in hand with an 11-point fourth quarter lead and still were ahead by nine (46- 37) with just over two minutes remaining in the contest. That was when Crenshaw started its ferocious rally beginning with back-to-back threepoint baskets by junior guard Sherman Whitfield, cutting Gardena’s lead to three (46-43). The Panthers, who entered the playoffs as the No. 2 seed behind Westchester, had a key basket by junior Chase Williams, but he and senior Willie Denham missed a pair of front ends of one-andone free throws which opened the door for the Cougars, who were seventh seed. Another key in the game was that Crenshaw, entering late in the fourth period, had just two second half fouls. Gardena did not get any bonus until 13 seconds left in the game. “We didn’t get the key baskets and free throws,” Gardena head coach Ernie Carr said. “We missed a couple of key shots that could have helped us win.” Gardena was led by Quincy Phillips with 14 points, followed by Jarren Ponds with 11. The Panthers’ top overall scorer, Williams, was held to only eight points. “Williams did not have a good game,” Carr said. Crenshaw had a game-high 18 points from Robinson, also a junior. Eight of those were in the fourth quarter, including going 6-for-6 from the free throw line. The Panthers are known for their stingy defense and the first quarter was that as the Cougars led 7-6. The second period saw Crenshaw lead by as many as nine points, but Gardena caught fire closing out the first half trailing by one point (17-16). The Panthers dominated the third quarter, outscoring the Cougars 19-7 for a 35-24 lead. Gardena led 37-26 with about 6:30 remaining in the game and 46-37 with 2:08 to go before Crenshaw’s winning rally that saw the Cougars outscore the Panthers 13-3. After Denham missed the free throw with 5.5 seconds remaining, Robinson rebounded and raced down the ball and scored the winning basket with about 0.2 seconds before the buzzer. The win put Crenshaw on the road against Grant High of Van Nuys in the semifinals on Wednesday while Gardena ended its season at 23-7. Grant defeated No. 6 San Pedro 73-57 in the quarterfinals last Friday at Grant. In the first round on Feb. 16 at Gardena, the Panthers topped Eagle Rock 51-46. Williams led Gardena with 19 points.