By Jeremy Balan
SAN JOSE — At times during Washington High School’s matchup against Piedmont Hills of San Jose on Saturday, the Eagles looked like the better team on the court.
But a lethal combination of turnovers, foul trouble and a large early deficit led to a 51-42 loss for Washington in the championship game of the WCO Showdown on Saturday at Overfelt High School in San Jose.
Washington (5-3) committed nine turnovers in the first quarter, allowing Piedmont Hills (4-0) to open up a 15-5 lead.
The Eagles would only have four more turnovers and would outscore Piedmont Hills the rest of the way, but they would never overcome that early blow.
“We had to match their intensity, and it wasn’t until after the first quarter that we started doing that,” said Washington head coach Jolinko Lassiter.
Making things worse, two of Washington’s senior leaders in guard Jeremy Jetton and forward LeVander Moore, were plagued with foul trouble throughout.
Moore, the anchor inside to Washington’s solid guard play, would miss large parts of each quarter due to the foul trouble and would only score three points, but it was his absence in the rebounding game that may have had the most impact.
While Moore wasn’t on the floor, Piedmont Hills feasted on offensive rebounds, opening up countless second-chance opportunities.
“He brings a lot of stuff to the team other than just scoring and rebounding,” Lassiter said. “When he goes hard, everyone else goes hard. We have other guys who can do it, but when he’s not out there, it’s just hard for us to get a rhythm.”
With Jetton and Moore missing so much time, the offense ran almost exclusively through standout senior guard Brenden Glapion, who had a team-high 17 points.
But those points did not come easy, as Piedmont Hills made it clear early that Glapion would be shadowed throughout. Pirates senior guard Alex Aguilar blanketed Glapion throughout the first half, denying him the ball on every possession.
“The guy averages 22 points a game and I didn’t want to see him go for 40,” said Piedmont Hills head coach Pete Simos. “He still got his points though. I mean, we were keyed on him and he still had 17. He’s awfully good.”
The Pirates had 12-point leads at halftime and at the end of the third quarter, but a momentary lapse opened the door slightly for the Eagles in the fourth.
Riding a run sparked by seven Piedmont Hills turnovers in the final frame, Washington would cut the lead to 46-39 with 1:22 remaining, but the Pirates, after struggling from the free throw line the entire night, hit key free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
The two teams will meet again on Dec. 21 at Piedmont Hills, a game Simos knows Washington will be looking forward to.
“I’m a little worried about that game, because I know they’re going to be out for revenge,” Simos said. “They’re a good program and a good team, and it was a good test for us early on.”
Stephen Anderson – 19
Juan Avila – 10
P.J. Nelson – 6
Martin Greer – 5
Jalen Robertson – 4
Brenden Glapion – 17
Jeremy Jetton -12
Kenneth Lui – 7
Galen Hall – 3
LeVander Moore – 3