Birmingham boys basketball falls to King/Drew in City Open Division semifinals

TORRANCE – Despite Alex Dupree’s best efforts, the third-seeded Birmingham boys basketball team fell to No. 2 King/Drew 62-56 in the semifinals of the CIF City Section Open Division playoffs Saturday at El Camino College.

The Golden Eagles advance to face No. 8 seed Los Angeles CES in the title game Saturday, Feb. 24, at Pasadena City College.

Dupree poured in a game-high 26 points, including 12 as he tried to lead a fourth-quarter comeback.

“He carried as far as he could,” said Birmingham coach Nicholas Halic. “Overall, as a team, we just didn’t play well enough to win.”

King/Drew stymied the Patriots during a very physical second quarter. Birmingham scored just six points and trailed 26-21 at halftime.

“They were able to foul – a lot – and we weren’t allowed to foul,” said Halic. “That’s what I think the difference is. We go to the basket, we don’t get any calls. They get breathed on, they get a call.”

Led by lightning-quick guard Mandell Anthony, the Patriots looked like a different team in the third period. Anthony scored 12 of his 14 points in the quarter.

“Just to try and get him and Alex playing together, that’s been the toughest part,” said Halic. “Mandell was out while Alex was playing. Now that they’re both back, it’s kind of hard to balance it so we have to figure that out.”

King/Drew always seemed to have a timely shot waiting to slow a Birmingham run.

Sophomore Jayshawn Kibble had nine of his 16 points in the fourth quarter to help put the Patriots away.

Donald Thompson, a junior, also had 16 points and sophomore Josahn Webster added 14.

“They did a good job,” said Halic. “I don’t want to take anything away from King/Drew, they played a good game. How the game is officiated has nothing to do with them. They did a good and hats off to ’em.”

The Patriots will continue their season in the CIF State playoffs.

In the other Open Division semifinal:

LACES 52, Chatsworth 49: The Chancellors (16-14) were dealt a stunning defeat by LACES, which overcame a three-point deficit with 18.6 seconds left in the contest.

Ryan Conner made a pair of 3-pointers in the final seconds to give LACES the victory.

Alijah Arenas led Chatsworth with 19 points.

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