Story by Matthew Tsai
Print Managing Editor
Photo by Jayden Eden
Boys basketball defeated the Blair Vikings 76-33 on Friday, April 23. Led by junior center Sage Wayans’ 36 points and a suffocating defense, the Tigers easily took care of business and earned its first league win of the season.
“Every league game is going to be a dogfight,” head coach Ernest Baskerville said. “We were fortunate tonight to catch a break and be able to take advantage of a team in transition… I thought we could have done a better job in half court sets, but [we] benefited from getting a ton of fast break opportunities, which seemed to be the driving force of our offense tonight.”
At almost every position, the South Pas players towered over the Blair squad. Wayans went to work, outscoring the Vikings by himself, 13-12, in the first quarter.
The Tigers also exposed the visiting team’s lack of ball handlers with a press, forcing turnovers that turned into easy fastbreak buckets. South Pas finished the first eight minutes with a 15-point advantage.
“My mentality was that we had to win the game no matter what because I didn’t want the loss of the last game to linger and affect my teammates and me,” Wayans said. “I knew early on I was going to come out with all the energy I had in myself and try my best.”
But, where the Vikings lacked in ball handling, they made up for in tough shot-making and perimeter shooting. Blair snuck back within six after a series of midrange bank shots and contested threes.
Wayans checked back into the game and almost immediately calmed the team down; the defense tightened up and he anchored the offense, generating a quality look almost every time down the floor. He poured in another eight points to rebuild the Tiger lead to 14, 39-25.
Wayans continued his dominating performance, starting the third with seven points in under two minutes.
Blair began to attack the basket more, but South Pas’ length and rim protection forced miss after miss. The Tigers took the opportunity to speed up the game’s tempo and after an onslaught of transition scores, their lead ballooned to 41 by the end of the third.
The Tigers continued to push down on the throttle to walk away with a 43-point blowout victory. Wayans finished with 36 points, while senior guard Tyler Johnson scored 13 and junior guard Dillon Akers put up 12.
“It was good to get the win for our first league win tonight after letting the first one slip away in the final seconds vs. San Marino,” Baskerville said. “We have a tough league game next week at La Cañada who has had a stranglehold on the Rio HondoLeague for some years now. We had a nailbiter there last year, losing at the buzzer, so we are hoping to change the outcome this time around.”
Boys basketball will return on Saturday, April 24, to host Serra at 7 p.m, and face off against La Cañada on Wednesday, April 28.