ANAHEIM -- Perhaps there's a pebble out there that can bring down Long Beach Poly. Etiwanda just couldn't find it Tuesday night.
Top-seeded Long Beach Poly wasn't perfect but did enough in a 60-53 win over fourth-seeded Etiwanda to advance to the CIF Southern Section Division 1AA boys basketball championship game. The Jackrabbits (28-1) will face third-seeded Corona Centennial in the final Saturday at 6:30 p.m. The Huskies came back from a 15-point hole to knock off second-seeded Mater Dei in the other semifinal at Anaheim Arena.
"At Poly, whatever sport you play, you always have that target," said senior Alexis Moore, who had 15 points and eight rebounds. "With the No. 1 seed, we knew there was going to be a lot of expectations and a lot of pressure put upon us. We just tried to tune that out and play our game."
Super sophomore Roschon Prince, who had a game-high 19 points, gave Poly a four-point lead with a lay in inside with a minute remaining. He stole the ball on Etiwanda's next possession and took it the other way for the clincher, allowing the Poly contingent the chance to exhale.
But Prince's best contribution was his defense on Etiwanda's Byron Wesley. Wesley finished with 18 points, but only four came in the fourth quarter.
"I could tell Byron was getting frustrated," said Moore, who will team up with Wesley at USC in the fall. "In the first half he got pretty much anything he wanted. Byron is capable of breaking you down, whether it's at the top of the key or in the post. I'm going to have a lot of fun playing with him next year, but Roschon did a better job of staying on his toes and moving his feet."
There was another interesting dynamic that should draw plenty of conversation on the Boston College campus next fall. Etiwanda's Jordan Daniels (12 points) and Poly's Ryan Anderson (11 points) will be teammates.
The game included 10 ties and four lead changes. Poly didn't reach its biggest lead until the final made free throw. In the end, it was defense and transition efficiency that proved to be the solution.
Moore joked that he would not talk too much trash because Poly might face Baseline League champion Etiwanda (28-3), which got to Anaheim with ease by beating up on Long Beach Wilson, Chino Hills and Valencia, in the state tournament.