SAN FERNANDO — No. 13 seed Trinity boys basketball bounced back from a CIF-Southern Section Championship Game loss to win its first-round game of the CIF-State Division V Championships 55-37 against San Fernando Tuesday night at San Fernando High School.
“I’m not surprised,” said Trinity head coach Aaron Southwick. “These guys all year have been resilient. I’m happy for the guys, proud of them. Desire and we had it from all the guys out there on the court today.”
“We didn’t play as good as we could on Saturday, but we didn’t let that affect us,” said Trinity sophomore John Cervantes-King. “We just got back up and ran down the court.”
The Knights took an early momentum swing starting with stealing the tipoff that San Fernando had won. The possession nearly came up empty, however. Senior Kyle Fields, who was hot from behind the arc in the CIF-SS Championship Game, missed the opening 3-pointer.
Sophomore Nathan Thomas saved the Knights, though. He stole the ball away from the Tigers and took it to the basket himself to keep momentum in Trinity’s favor. That play was a good indicator of what was to come for the Knights.
The entire first quarter was a back-and-forth battle that saw six lead changes. San Fernando capitalized from three early to put the Knights in a jam. Trinity struggled to take shots but did find success in the paint.
“In the first half, we were just getting used to the ball and moving it, trying to see our options,” Cervantes-King said.
The first quarter battle between shooters and drivers ended in a one-point Trinity lead, 12-11.
Junior Will Yumbar tallied a double-double (13 points, 15 rebounds) and took over in the second quarter for the Knights. His eight points and two rebounds put the Knights in a position to run away with the game, giving them a 20-11 lead.
“I couldn’t have done that without good passes from my teammates,” Yumbar said. “They really set that up for me.”
However, the tides turned in the second half of the quarter and the Tigers went on an 11-3 run, shrinking the Trinity lead to just one point.
A refusal to be bullied led the Knights to a monstrous second half. Timidity melted away and they let shots fly from all over the court.
“The coaches just told me, they said, ‘Shoot the ball,’” Cervantes-Kind said. “So, I shot the ball and it kept going in.”
It was the Cervantes-King Show. The sophomore had only tallied three points, two rebounds two steals, and two assists throughout the entire first half but opened up his game in the final two acts.
Five 3-pointers from Cervantes-King in the second half vaulted the Knights over the Tigers. His second-half performance also padded his stats immensely. He finished the game with 20 points and eight rebounds.
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“I didn’t shoot that well on Saturday, so it just feels good to get the ball back in the hoop,” Cervantes-King said. “It feels really good. In two of the playoff games we had before the championship it was rough shooting for me. Getting those baskets meant a lot.”
Desperate to stay alive, San Fernando began fouling the Knights to send them to the line. It was a futile effort. The Knights sank all but two of the free throws and the Tigers consistently failed to land their last hope shots. That ultimately led to their 18-point elimination.
“It was refreshing for the whole team that we came back and beat a team by this much,” Yumbar said.
Next up for the Knights is the No. 5 seed Arrowhead Christian. The game will be on Thursday at 7 p.m.