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Big win for ‘turn-back-the-clock team’

02/26/2014, 10:52pm PST
By John Maffei

Another victory over a big public school for tiny Calvin Christian

Joey LaGrua scored 16 points to lead Calvin Christian.

— Small gym, tiny student body, big-time boys basketball team.

All three describe Calvin Christian.

Wednesday, the Crusaders ran their winning streak to 16 games with an 81-50 win over Hilltop in the first round of the San Diego Section Division III playoffs.

Seeded No. 3, Calvin (22-4), a school with 120 students, will host Imperial in the quarterfinals. Hilltop, with close to 2,000 students, finished 13-15.

“I thought we’d be the more athletic team,” said Hilltop coach Sergio Gonzalez, who was missing two starters — one who was on a trip, one who was ill. “But Calvin is long, and they move their feet really well.

“They spread the floor, they shoot it very well, and they move without the ball.”

The Crusaders bolted to a 25-6 lead at the end of the first quarter, led by 20 at halftime and by 39 early in the fourth quarter.

“We forced some shots early, got behind and never could catch up,” Gonzalez said.

Six Calvin players scored in double figures, led by junior guard Joey LaGrua with 16 points. Mark Bakker and sixth man Quinn Albright each had 14, and Brock Lusky 13.

The 6-foot-5 Stout twins — Jacob and Jeremiah — were also major factors.

Jacob had 12 points and nine rebounds. Jeremiah finished with 11 points and seven rebounds.

Adrian Ortiz and Michael Bembry led Hilltop with 14 points each.

Calvin Christian outrebounded Hilltop 35-20. The Crusaders had no less than 20 layups.

Jeremiah Stout left immediately after the game to catch a red-eye flight out of Los Angeles International Airport for a college scholarship interview today in Michigan. Jacob will leave today for a different scholarship interview at the same school.

They’re scheduled to depart Chicago on Saturday and hope to be back in time for Saturday’s game.

“We don’t look big or fast,” said Calvin coach Brad Hollingsworth. “We realize we’re not as athletic as most teams we play.

“We’re kind of a turn-back-the-clock team — short hair, shorter-than-normal shorts.

“We believe in team first. Our players will give up the ball.

“We rely on balance.

“To us, the opponent doesn’t matter. Sure, beating a big public school means something. But we worry about ourselves, not the opponent.”

Calvin Christian has beaten Madison, San Pasqual, Mt. Carmel, Patrick Henry, Santana and Monte Vista this season.

“We don’t play the up-and-down game like Sweetwater,” Hollingsworth said. “We aren’t exotic like Kearny (which are seeded No. 1 and 2 in Division III).

“But we pass and shoot the ball. We have great leaders in the Stout twins.

“It’s just a special group.”

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