by Hunter Dawkins
With steaming intensity surrounding the Long Beach gymnasium Tuesday night, the Long Beach basketball program put the pedal to the metal against St. Martin High School. A crowd-packed stunning upset by the boys 60-57 over the 6A powerhouse and the hard fought girls loss 45-32 gave the fans their money’s worth.
Opening the girls game, the Lady Bearcats (6-11, 0-2) displayed an early defensive strike by recording a 20-18 halftime lead highlighted by four 3-point baskets from Senior Forward Amiya Moore and Sophomore Guard Breeauna Troup. The age and lack of experience got the best in the second half, as Long Beach was outscored 27-12 in the second half, which led to a 45-32 final score.
Troup led the Lady Bearcats scoring with 12 points and Junior Forward Americus Knight chipped in 11 points.
The boys matchup brought all the marbles to the table, as the Bearcats (15-4, 2-0) were seeking revenge from an early season loss from St. Martin (15-3). Former Bearcats Coach Charlie Pavlus brought his 6A dominant team, St. Martin, into the building hoping for a smooth game. Long Beach punched the Yellow Jackets in the mouth with a first period lead 22-12 after three 3-point baskets from Bearcats Senior Forward Calvin Johnson.
“We had a little more motivation and started off well,” said Long Beach Basketball Coach Brandon Cobb. “St. Martin is a very well-coached team and they fight 32 minutes non-stop.”
Despite a high number of fouls called on the Bearcats during the second period, Long Beach came out with a 34-26 halftime lead.
Beginning the second half, the Bearcats went cold and even using their press defensive scheme, the Yellow Jackets went on a 17-9 run with the score being tied after the third period 43-43.
A 17-point run by Long Beach along with two 3-point baskets from Johnson and sophomore guard Anthony Robinson secured the victory for the Bearcats 60-57.
“It’s a very big win for us,” said Cobb. “St. Martin is a 6A school that came in with a great record and it will be similar to a team we see in the playoffs.”
This victory marks the first time Long Beach has won 15 games in more than a decade, when Pavlus coached the Bearcats.
The Bearcats were led by Freshman Guard Malik Handy with 20 points and 2 steals. Johnson had 17 points, including five 3-point baskets and 8 rebounds. Robinson was the last double-digit scorer with 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists.
The Long Beach Bearcats will host district and cross-town rival West Harrison Friday night at 6pm.