Agassi Prep star Deishuan Booker did his part on Tuesday as the Stars battled The Meadows for first place in the Division III Southern League.
But it was sophomore Stephan Laushaul who sparked a 7-0 run late in the fourth quarter to propel Agassi Prep to a 69-59 victory over the Mustangs at home.
“We won the game with the confidence all these guys are getting,” Agassi Prep coach Trevor Diggs said. “Every team that plays us is going to try and take the ball out of Deishuan’s hands. We’re showing every game that (other) guys are stepping up.
“Stephan Laushaul two weeks ago wouldn’t have took that shot. But we preach in practice that you have to be an open shooter. He’s been working on his jump shot all year. I told him before, (Booker) can penetrate and kick it. You got to be ready to shoot.”
Laushaul showed his confidence at the perfect time. At halftime, Agassi Prep (13-1, 5-0 Division III Southern League) led 39-31 and even pushed the lead into double digits early in the third quarter. But the Mustangs fought back and made it 51-47 at the start of the fourth quarter.
The Meadows (14-5, 4-1) continued to chip away, and cut the lead to 57-55 after Brandon Rufty sank two free throws with 3:20 remaining.
Just when the momentum favored the Mustangs, Booker found a wide-open Laushaul in the corner.
Laushaul nailed the 16-footer, and then stole the ball near midcourt and took it in for a layup.
Kobe Williams hit a 3-pointer on the Stars’ next possession to make it 64-55 with just more than a minute left, essentially sealing the victory for Agassi Prep.
“(My team) had a lot of confidence today,” said Booker, who had 29 points, seven assists and five rebounds. “They stepped up big. I was preaching that before the game to play with confidence. They played to win, it meant something to them. Everyone was saying it was a big game and that they’re the No. 1 seed. They were hyped up.”
Dennis Walker added 11 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots for Agassi Prep, which also got four 3-pointers and 16 points from Williams.
Eric Hirsberg led The Meadows with 13 points, and Brian Fridman added 11 points and seven rebounds. Jake Epstein finished with 11 points, six rebounds and four steals for the Mustangs.
Diggs said his team needs to continue fighting hard and improving.
“We’re just trying to get better every game,” Diggs said. “It’s good to be on top, but it’s also hard to stay on top. If I was The Meadows, I couldn’t wait to play us again. They’re going to be ready at their home. We got to be ready when the time comes.”