Chatsworth and Alijah Arenas defeat Westchester boys basketball in L.A. City Open Division

LOS ANGELES The Westchester boys basketball team knew it had a tall order trying to stop sophomore phenom Alijah Arenas in the first round of the CIF LA City Section Open Division playoffs.

The Comets held Arenas to 16 points in the first three quarters, but in the fourth quarter, he scored 12 of Chatsworth’s final 15 points to lead the way in a 64-49 win.

Chatsworth will face LACES in next week’s semifinals.

Arenas finished with 28 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and five steals. Taj Unuakhalu had 10 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks.

“Our game plan was tonight was to go box-and-one on Alijah (Arenas) and try not to let him touch the ball much, but he is very crafty,” Westchester coach DeWitt Cotton said. “He made some nice plays and was tough to stop.

“When you got no size and your best player was trying to play hurt, its tough. We did a good job until the last part of the game, but they were just too good tonight.”

Fifth-seeded Chatsworth started quick going up 9-0 in the first four minutes of the game.

Courtney Hutchins got the Comets on the board with a 3-pointer with 2:50 left to play in the first quarter. After a Patrick Ramos 3, Westchester was within four at 15-11.

Westchester continued to battle and took its only lead of the night on a David Connery 3-pointer with 5:10 remaining in the half for a 19-17 lead. Arenas then started assert himself scoring six consecutive points during an 8-1 run for Chatsworth for a 25-20 lead with 2:51 left in the first half.

Before the end of the half, Hutchins stepped up and buried a 3-pointer at the halftime to get the Comets to within one point at 28-27.

The third quarter saw Westchester senior Kevin Lemke, who was saddled with three fouls in the first half, start to heat up from long range.

Lemke hit consecutive 3-pointers to pull the Comets within three in the final minute of the third quarter.  Later he hit a third of the half, getting the Comets close again at 43-42.

“Their height changed things a lot,” Lemke, who led the Comets with 11 points, said. “We had to adapt on defense to make sure we were able to get some rebounds. Offensively, it made it harder to attack the paint.

“It was very frustrating to lose this one. We have had a lot of people writing us off before the season saying Westchester would not be good.  We had a chance tonight to prove them wrong, but we couldn’t get it done. Now we have to regroup in practice the next week and get ready for state.”

With Chatsworth holding a one-point advantage, Arenas took over. He scored on a nice spin move and followed that with a a mid-range jumper to increase the lead to five.

TJ Phillips hit two 3’s and Arenas made two more baskets to push the Chancellors’ lead to 61-49 with 1:30 to go.

The Chancellors finished the game with a 16-5 run over the final six minutes.

“We played as team and played hard and didn’t let up,” Arenas said. “We communicated well on defense and locked them up. We played well on both ends the whole time. I’m very excited to advance to next round. We just have to go out and continue to play hard.”

In Division I

SAN PEDRO 60, GRANADA HILLS 49: AJ Bobich scored 16 points to lead the seventh-seeded Pirates (20-10) to the upset win. Noah Simpson had 13 points and seven rebounds and Zach Saavedra finished with nine points.

San Pedro went on a 26-6 run in the second quarter. The Pirates will face Crenshaw in the semifinals.

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