Inland Empire: Eisenhower 96, Redlands East Valley 78

REDLANDS — Keyon Sayles picked a good time to have the best game of his high school basketball career.

Sayles, a 6-foot-3 senior guard for Rialto Eisenhower, made seven three-point baskets and scored a career-high 37 points Friday night, leading the Eagles to a 96-78 victory against host Redlands East Valley in a key Citrus Belt League game.

“That was by far his best game of the year,” said Eisenhower coach Steve Johnson. “He shot the ball really well. When he gets on a streak he can put it down. He can play with anybody.”

Eisenhower improved to 10-6 overall, including 2-0 in league play. The Wildcats fell to 14-4, 1-1.

Sayles, a second-team all-Citrus Belt League selection last season, was overshadowed a year ago by teammates Alex Varner, the CBL most valuable player, and first-teamers Bryan Bock, Kirby Gardner and Bernard Ireland.

The Eagles went 29-6 last season and beat Pasadena for the Southern Section Division 2A title.

“He has been our team for three years, but he’s never been the go-to guy,” Johnson said of Sayles. “He has had some 20-point games but never where we run some [offense] through him.”

Sayles made two three-pointers in the opening quarter as Eisenhower surged to a 30-19 lead. The Eagles extended their lead to 15 at the half and maintained a 17-point advantage heading into the fourth quarter.

Marvelle Harris contributed 27 points and Toriano Harris had 15 for Eisenhower, the four-time defending league champions.

Despite being significantly outsized by REV center Paulin Mpawe, a 6-9 senior who signed with Pepperdine, the Eagles managed to limit him to 20 points, eight rebounds and five blocks.

“The biggest thing was their physicality,” said Redlands East Valley coach Bill Berich. “They won a large percentage of the loose balls and rebounds.”

Terrell Todd led the Wildcats with 33 points, hitting five three-pointers.

Eisenhower struggled early in the season, owning a 6-6 record in late December, but has won four straight, including a 64-45 victory last week against a talented team from Fontana Summit.

“We haven’t been playing well,” Johnson said. “We beat Summit when we came back from break and obviously this is a good win.”

The Eagles can look forward to some even better challenges in the coming weeks. They are scheduled to play Richmond Salesian on Jan. 22 at LaVerne Lutheran. Salesian is ranked No. 8 in the state in the latest ESPN RISE rankings.

They also have a rematch against City Section power Los Angeles Fairfax at the Nike Extravaganza at Mater Dei High on Feb. 5. The Eagles lost to Fairfax, 56-33, on Dec. 22.

“We’re going to see if we made progress,” Johnson said. “Physically, we can compete with anybody.”