It was pick your poison, in every sense, for the Westlake Village Oaks Christian boys’ basketball team during Thursday‘s Southern California Regional playoff game on the road.
Do the Lions double-team Allen Crabbe? Do they send an extra man on Richard Solomon? It was a problem indeed. But ultimately, Oaks Christian ended up having to turn its focus on Casey Trujeque.
With Crabbe and Solomon struggling, Trujeque filled in admirably and scored 12 of his game-high 16 points in a decisive third quarter run to guide the Knights to a 68-42 Division IV quarterfinal victory.
“We needed someone to man up and Casey did the job for us,’’ Price coach Michael Lynch said.
It’s not as if Trujeque wasn’t capable. He is, after all, going to play ball at the Division I level next year. He committed to Montana State despite having offers from several other schools.
Top-seeded Price (31-3) had a six-point lead at the break. Entering the third quarter, the Lions (20-10) might have thought they had a chance, but Trujeque made sure that wasn’t the case.
By the time he was finished scoring on variety of layups and three-pointers, the Knights extended their advantage to 47-32 entering the fourth quarter and ruined any momentum Oaks Christian had gathered.
"We knew they were going to up the ante at some point, we just thought it was going to be one of their two other guys to step up and try to take the game over,’’ Lions coach Tom Roanhuas said.
In most cases, Crabbe or Solomon, both heading to Cal, would assume the leadership role, similar to the way each has done numerous times in the past. It had become a right of passage.
But on this night, it was Trujeque’s turn.
And the Lions never saw it coming.