Blazers rout Spirits
Paraclete falls to nation’s No. 2 Sierra Canyon
LANCASTER — It’s not every day the No. 2-ranked high school boys basketball team in the nation plays in Lancaster, so Paraclete’s game with Sierra Canyon, which is also the No. 1-ranked team in the state, was the hot ticket at Antelope Valley College on Tuesday night.
The game didn’t go the Spirits’ way as they lost to the visiting Trailblazers 96-55 in a Gold Coast League game that was broadcast on ESPN3.
The contest was such a hot ticket that fans were turned away, even those who had prepaid tickets, because the Marauder Gym was at capacity.
“What an event for Paraclete High School to put on,” Paraclete coach Newton Chelette said. “We had to turn people away and I really, on behalf of Paraclete, feel badly about having to turn people away.”
Fans were not only eager to watch the high-ranking Trailblazers (23-3, 6-0 GCL), but also the sons of two NBA stars, Bronny James (son of the Lakers’ LeBron James) and Zaire Wade (son of former NBA player Dwyane Wade).
For the Spirits (19-8, 1-4), it was just another game.
“I just came in like it was a regular game, any other game,” Coleman said. “To the whole team, it was just a regular game.”
Paraclete started strong with a basket and 3-pointer from Nolan Boffman, but Sierra Canyon began to pull away as they took advantage of turnovers, steals and extra looks at the basket.
“Nolan made some shots early and got us going,” Chelette said. “I’m proud of them for competing. They never turned it in and gave up.”
The Spirits trailed 34-18 after the first quarter, but the margin grew to 57-32 at halftime, thanks to the athleticism and
height of the Trailblazers’ players. Of Sierra Canyon’s starting five, the shortest player was 6-foot-4. The team also boast 7-foot-3 center Harold Yu.
“I’m thankful for this group of guys and that they battled,” Chelette said about his team. “It’s just there was too much of them and not enough of us.”
The Trailblazers worked well together, often picking up baskets on each other’s missed shots. Early in the second quarter, Sierra Canyon’s Ziaire Williams missed a 3-pointer as it banked off the rim and Amari Bailey slammed the rebound into the hoop for a dunk. It was the first of many plays like that.
“Personally, I think this might be the best Sierra Canyon team that we’ve played in the eight years that I’ve been at Paraclete,” Chelette said. “And I say that, because they feed off of each other and they play together. They’re organized and they’re athletic and long.”
Coleman had a couple of blocks in the game to get the ball back for his team.
“It felt good to get the blocks and get down the court and give it to my teammates to score,” Coleman said. “Getting them better for Friday, our senior night.”
Boffman and Rowley also picked up some steals in the game.
“Our guys played hard and that’s what I asked them to do,” Chelette said. “So, I’m proud of the way the kids fought. Did I want to get beat by 40? Well, obviously not. I didn’t want the kids to get beat by 40. But, unfortunately, Sierra Canyon is that good.”
The Trailblazers keyed in on Coleman and JC Anthony, so Coleman was often kicking the ball out to his teammates.
“It was really tough,” Coleman said. “They saw what was coming, kicked it out, get to the basket, but they slowed it down and stopped me a couple of times, but I still got it to my teammates to score.”
It was Dylan Cox who led the Spirits in points, knocking down four 3-pointers and going 3-for-3 at the free-throw line for 15 points.
“Dylan played well,” Chelette said. “Dylan can shoot the ball.
Boffman scored nine for the Spirits, while Coleman and Anthony each had seven. Anthony had a back-door dunk.
“I knew it would be tough for Amado and JC, because they’re so athletic,” Chelette said. “I knew they would key in on Amado. But you’ve got to love the way Amado plays, he plays so hard.”
Rowley and Jaren Johnson each scored four points, Maurice Wright Jr. had a fourth-quarter 3-pointer and Andrew Briones knocked down two free throws in the fourth quarter.
“We came out with a lot of aggression and then toward the end, we started slowing down, messed up the rotations and stuff,” Coleman said. “We were rushing too many shots and didn’t get into our sets, so that’s what really messed us up going into the second half.”
Williams — who has received NCAA Division 1 offers from seven colleges, including four Pac-12 schools as well as Duke and North Carolina — scored 23 points to help lead Sierra Canyon. He fouled out with just over two minutes left in the third quarter after receiving a technical for hanging on the rim after a dunk.
Brandon Boston Jr. also scored 23 points for the Trailblazers. Boston signed to the University of Kentucky.
Terren Frank added 16 points for Sierra Canyon. Frank signed with TCU last October.
James scored eight points, all in the third quarter, while Wade made two free throws in the fourth quarter.
Despite the loss, Coleman said it was fun to play against a top-ranked team.
“They’re a good team,” Coleman said.
The crowd was also the largest crowd for a Paraclete home game, which made for a fun atmosphere. The Paraclete fans would cheer whenever the Spirits made a good play or converted a basket.
“It was cool,” Coleman said. “I love it.”
Paraclete plays Windward at home in their regular season finale on Friday.
BIG DUNK — Paraclete’s JC Anthony dunks the ball as Sierra Canyon’s Shy Odom (13) and Brandon Boston Jr. (3) look on during Tuesday’s Gold Coast League game at Antelope Valley College. The Trailblazers won 96-55.
TAKE IT AWAY — Paraclete’s Myles Rowley (2) dribbles down the court as Sierra Canyon’s Bronny James (0) follows on Tuesday.