Guards who can dribble, shoot and score have become more valuable than centers in high school basketball, and that makes West Hollywood Pacific Hills one of the top teams in Southern California.
There aren't many teams with three guards of the quality of Namon Wright, Marcus Jackson and Jahmel Taylor. Wright had 25 points, Taylor 18 and Jackson 15 on Wednesday night to help the Bruins hold off Brentwood, 75-71, in a game for first place in the Alpha League.
Pacific Hills (15-2, 6-0), ranked No. 1 in Southern Section Division 4A, opened a 15-point lead in the third quarter, but with its coach, Ryan Bailey, exhorting his team to "keep fighting," Brentwood (16-2, 4-1) came roaring back behind Leland King, who scored 25 points, and Tra Holder, who had 21.
The Eagles closed to within 70-69 with 1 minute 6 seconds left after a basket by King. But free throws by Wright, Jackson and Taylor proved decisive in the final minute. A traveling violation against Holder with 23 second left and Brentwood down 71-69 also hurt the Eagles.
In the end, Pacific Hills' guards were too tough to stop when the game was on the line.
"That's about as good as it gets in high school basketball," Bailey said. "You have three high-major guards."
Pacific Hills Coach Ivan Barahona had little time to celebrate or even talk to his team afterward. He rushed to Los Angeles International Airport to catch a flight to El Salvador, where he was scheduled to be introduced as the country's new national team coach.