Cajon Lakes entered Saturday’s game with the best week of practice of any Agassi Prep basketball player, according to his coach, Trevor Diggs.
And as the age-old saying goes, “You play how you practice.”
The Stars, who were without star player Deishuan Booker (29.4 points per game) because of an undisclosed violation of team rules, needed every bit of Lakes’ play off the bench against The Meadows.
The senior scored six of his eight points in the fourth quarter and made a critical steal and go-ahead bucket late to help the Stars rally for a 68-63 win over the host Mustangs.
Agassi Prep (19-0, 13-0) secured the No. 1 seed for the Division III Southern playoffs, which start Feb. 20.
“Cajon had the best week of practice of any of my players,” Diggs said. “He was making jump shots, playing hard. He can really play. It was a great effort from him.”
Lakes, who also had seven rebounds and two steals, took over with the Stars trailing 63-60.
Lakes hit a close jumper to pull his team within 63-62, then made a steal and go-ahead basket with 1:56 left to give Agassi Prep a 64-63 lead. He was fouled on the play but missed the free throw.
“That steal was a big blow to them,” Diggs said. “We were down one. That was big time. We got a great team win. They dogged it out. They played so hard. I’m just so proud of them because that’s what I want to instill in my program. Just play hard. When in doubt, play hard.”
The Meadows led 59-51 with 6:15 left and seemed to have taken control after outscoring Agassi Prep 21-11 in the third quarter. But the Mustangs soon faltered, committing six turnovers and shooting 4 of 11 from the field in the fourth quarter.
“The fourth-quarter defense was amazing,” Diggs said. “We made solid plays. … The Meadows is the second-best team in our conference, and to beat them without a 29-point, eight-assist contributor shows that we are not a one-man team. We’re really a solid basketball team. We got good efforts from everyone that we put into that game.”
Dennis Walker led that effort with 17 points and nine rebounds. Kenneth Hatano had 15 points and seven rebounds and Kobe Williams 10 points and four assists for the Stars, who led 35-32 at halftime.
The Meadows’ Jake Epstein scored a game-high 26 points and had six rebounds for the Mustangs (15-6, 11-3). Ethan Fridman finished with 21 points, six assists and three steals, and Max Hisatake grabbed 10 rebounds.
Contact reporter Ashton Ferguson at email@example.com or 702-383-0430. Follow him on Twitter: @af_ferguson.