L.B. Poly takes down Eisenhower

LONG BEACH -- Roschon Prince had heard enough about the other guy. That was all the motivation he needed to produce the best playoff scoring effort in the history of the Long Beach Poly boys’ basketball program.

The 6-foot-6 junior forward scored a career-high 40 points Friday night and pulled down 15 rebounds to lead the Jackrabbits to a 77-67 victory against visiting Eisenhower in a Southern Section Division 1AA quarterfinal.

Considering the Jackrabbits won their first section title in 1919, the list of prime playoff performances is long and decorated. Prince left no doubt he belongs at the top.

“I just wanted to show them, if I was the most dominant player on probably the most dominant team, that I was going to win,” he said.

The second-seeded Jackrabbits advanced to Tuesday’s semifinals, where they will host third-seeded Etiwanda in a matchup that has become routine this time of year. The Jackrabbits beat Etiwanda in the Division 1AA semifinals last season and again in the SoCal Regional playoffs. Etiwanda beat Poly the year before in a semifinal before losing to Poly in the regionals.

“We’re ready for Etiwanda,” Prince said. “We’ve played them for two years so far, so it’s nothing new.”

Before he could begin plotting against Etiwanda, the object of Prince’s motivation was Eisenhower 6-3 guard Marvelle Harris, one of the nation’s top unsigned seniors who came in averaging 24.7 points. Harris, who gave a verbal commitment to Fresno State a day earlier, finished with 29.

On most nights, that would have been enough to be the star of the game, but not this night. The Jackrabbits devoted more manpower to stopping Harris as the game wore on and his shooting percentage steadily declined.

“They said Harris was a playmaker, he was capable of making shots and he was a volume shooter and that’s what he showed us,” Prince said. “I felt like once we realized that he could make shots from anywhere, we really got into him and started playing harder.”

During the first half, the second-hottest shooter in the gym was Eisenhower guard Terrance Sims, who scored 21 of his 23 points in the first two quarters. The Eagles took a 15-7 lead with 2:44 remaining in the opening quarter, but Poly was able to trim it to one point at the start of the second.

A slam dunk by Prince early in the second gave the Jackrabbits the lead for good, 24-22, and he followed up with a three-point basket and the Eagles never got back within one possession.

“Against a good team like that, you’ve got to keep them within four to six points,” said Eisenhower coach Steve Johnson. “They got it up to 10-12 and it’s hard to fight back against a big team.”

Especially one as motivated as the Jackrabbits.