Damien boys basketball team cruises past Riverside Poly to win Riverside Kiwanis Tournament title – Press Enterprise

RIVERSIDE — Xavier Clinton’s 19 points led all scorers Friday night in the Damien boys basketball team’s 75-46 victory over Riverside Poly in Friday night’s championship game of the 40th annual Riverside Kiwanis Tournament.

Clinton, who played on last year’s 26-5 team, felt that last year’s team overachieved. It may be much more difficult for Damien to sneak up on opponents in this season, as the Spartans are off to a 10-1 start.

Damien shook off a slow start, put a long scoring streak together in the second quarter and an even one in the third quarter. In addition to Clinton’s effort,  7-foot junior center Nate Garcia added 18 points. Elijah Smith scored 14 points, and Eli Garner contributed 10 points for the Spartans.

“We’ve got to do better the rest of the year,” Clinton said.

That may be hard, considering that the Spartans’ only setback was a one-point loss to La Mirada in the championship game of the Rumble for Rosecrans Tournament last month.. Damien shot well from 3-point rang  and did a solid job in rebounding and on defense.

Clinton hopes to play college basketball but is early in the college selection process. His favorite subject is math, and he wants to take pre-veterinary courses after high school.

“I have a soft spot for animals,” he said.

Riverside Poly (6-2) had a 9-0 advantage in the first three minutes of the game and outscored Damien 16-15 in the opening quarter. Kory Dodson led the Bears with 10 points, while his younger brother Kam added eight points.

Damien scored the first seven points in the second period. Clinton completed the run with a 3-point shot after Garcia scored a pair of baskets.

After Kory Dodson made a layup, Clinton started a 10-point run with another 3-point basketball. Garcia made a three-point play, and Clinton scored a layup after a pass from Garcia. Perhaps the most revealing play was when Elijah Smith scored on an offensive rebound after Damien had missed three shots in the sequence.

“We didn’t do anything differently after the first couple of minutes,” Spartans coach Michael LeDuc said. “I think we missed our first five shots. They (Poly) are a good team and are well-coached, so we had to play better.”

The Spartans offensive engine ran even harder in the third quarter. Damien scored 15 consecutive points and stretched the lead to 49-26 with 1:14 remaining in the period. Kam Dodson broke the streak by scoring on an offensive rebound for Poly, but then it turned into a horror for the Bears. Dodson was called for a foul on a 3-point attempt. Poly coach Travis Showalter, who had been warned earlier in the game, was assessed a technical foul.

Showalter declined to answer questions after the game.

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