PASADENA — That final holiday wish for the Maranatha High boys’ basketball team went unfulfilled on the last day of 2012.
That’s because the host Minutemen trailed by as many as 23 points and did not recover against La Verne Lutheran in falling, 79-59, in the championship game of the San Gabriel Valley Classic on Monday afternoon.
“We had decent shots that we missed early and that hurt,” Minutemen Coach Tim Godley said. “They’re a high energy team and they’re going to come out and jump on you and we wanted to avoid that.”
The first half demonstrated La Verne Lutheran's command as the Trojans led, 46-24, at the break in the interdivisional match-up.
Perhaps the CIF Southern Section Division IV-AA third-ranked Trojans (11-6) were most dominating in handcuffing Minutemen star guard Jeremy Major.
The Pepperdine-bound senior was double-teamed every time he touched the ball in hitting both his field goal attempts and finishing with six points in the first half.
Overall, Major was named to the all-tournament team along with senior Caylan Swinnie (three points) after converting five-of-seven shots for 15 points, which accompanied his four assists and two steals.
Major's only attempt of the first quarter, though, came with one second remaining in the period when he drained a straightaway three-pointer off an assist from senior guard Brandon Pomroy.
The bucket closed the Minutemen's deficit to 21-8 at the quarter's end and was the Minutemen's second field goal over the last five minutes as Maranatha finished three for 12 in the quarter.
Pomroy proved the Minutemen's biggest weapon in the first half, connecting on three-of-four three-pointers in finishing with 11 points.
“I was feeling good when I was in there and I just did whatever was asked of me,” said Pomroy, who finished with 11 points and only attempted two additional field goals in the second half. “This is a talented team we played and there’s room for improvement.”
Maranatha's best run in the half came in the opening minutes of the second quarter as 11th-ranked Maranatha (11-4) tried to bounce back from a 23-8 deficit with an and-one bucket and free throw from Major followed by a triple from Pomroy to pull within 23-14 with 6:36 left.
Yet, La Verne scored the next nine points capped by a step-back three-pointer from tournament MVP Skylar Williams (21 points and three steals) with 4:13 remaining in going up, 32-14.
While the Minutemen tried to claw their way back, they didn’t make solid progress until the fourth quarter when they trimmed a 64-41 deficit at the end of the third quarter to 68-51 after a layup from freshman guard Zach Smalley with 4:36 remaining.
Unfortunately for Maranatha, La Verne Lutheran quickly answered with a layup from all-tournament selection Joe Rushing (15 points and eight rebounds) and the Minutemen never surged any closer.
“We’ll just take it how it is. They’re a great team for us to play,” Major said. “We don’t really get to play teams like that. It’s a good experience and we’ve got to learn and have a little more fight in the beginning.”
La Verne Lutheran’s Jay Williams led all players with 23 points and was also named to the all-tournament team.
Other than Major and Pomroy, senior guard Jalen Jones finished in double-digits for Maranatha with 11 points.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun