Lockwood leads Inglewood charge

INGLEWOOD -- Charles Lockwood might not be the most well-known post player the Southland has to offer. This time next year, however, things could be drastically different.

The 6-foot-9 junior from Inglewood showed glimpses of his potential during Tuesday night's Southern Section playoff game against visiting Thousand Oaks. His well-rounded effort, in fact, proved to be one of the differences in the Sentinels' 65-36 Division 2AA semifinal victory.

“Charles has a lot to offer, what you're seeing now is a player who is about to take the next step, a big step,'' Inglewood coach Pat Roy said. “He's heading in the right direction.''

Lockwood has been largely, although not solely responsible for the success this season at Inglewood (21-10), which advances to this weekend's finals against Simi Valley Royal.

Thousand Oaks (21-9) had trouble containing Lockwood down in the paint early on. His back-to-back baskets sparked a seven-point lead at the end of the first quarter. A pair of buckets late in the second quarter helped Inglewood take a 34-22 advantage at the halftime break.

With a comfortable lead, Lockwood got to work on the defensive end in the second half. He forced the Lancers to take difficult shots, they made one field goal and three free throws over an eight-minute stretch. As a result, the Sentinels started the fourth quarter up, 47-27.

Despite drawing double-and-triple teams for a majority of the game, Lockwood managed to finish with eight points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. With the game's final outcome no longer in doubt, he made his way to the bench for good with less than three minutes left.

“I'm not worried about the hype, I just want to help my team win,'' Lockwood said. “If I worry about taking care of my business on the court, everything will be good off the court.''

Make no mistake, Lockwood had help along the way. Kristopher Randall scored 17 points, Randy Onwuasor added 16 points and Nicholas Smiley finished with 15.

La Verne Lutheran's Grant Jerrett, North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake's Zena Edosomwan, Woodland Hills Taft's Anthony January and Gardena Serra's Daddy Ugbede are considered as the cream of the crop when it comes to talented big men from the greater Los Angeles area.

Each individual in the aforementioned group is a senior, mind you. And based on his efforts thus far, Lockwood appears poised to step to the forefront in the near future.

Sean Ceglinsky covers preps for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.