On February 7 at home, the Griffins lost 75-69 to the much bigger and more athletic Price High School Knights that ranks 20 in California holding a 20-5 record.
The Griffins kept it close in what probably should have been a lop-sided victory for the Knights and the game ended up stayed a very competitive matchup between the teams.
Like the Griffins, the Knights recently played Westlake and Oaks Christian, but beat both teams quite handily.
Senior Austin Butler stepped to the half-court line to face 6’10” Long Beach State commit, Larond Davis for the tip off last Saturday night. Against the center-less Griffins, the Knights overpowered their opponent with height. Only two of Price’s players stand less than six feet.
After the lost tip, the Griffins began turning the ball over. Three out of their five possessions were turnovers in the first few minutes to the Knights’ tough perimeter defense. On the other side of the court, junior Kesean Davis and Williams had already both dunked the ball, and Davis sank a three in front of the Griffins fans to silence the crowd.
The Griffins missed six early free throws, misses that hurt the team in the final stage.
Head coach Mike Hamilton called an early timeout to draw up some offensive plays that would get freshman Mike Meadows open on the perimeter and get the ball inside the paint for Butler to capitalize on pick and rolls.
The Griffins came out of the timeout strong leading to a 5-0 run in the last two and a half minutes of the quarter to cut the lead to six. At the end of the first quarter, the Knights led 15-9.
The Knights kept the lead during the second quarter, almost always by five to seven points.
Meadows kept the Griffins close with three’s in three offensive possessions in a row. Head Coach Mike Lynch of Price then called a timeout with the Griffin crowd shaking the stands.
The team finished the half strong with tough play from Butler who was getting hammered the entire half, and great shooting from the freshmen Kihei Clark and Meadows who finished with 37 of the Griffins’ 69 points.
At half time, the score was 37-34, Knights. The fans rocked the Pavilion taunting the Price squad as they walked out the gym.
The Griffins capitalized on Williams’ three early fouls in the first half, which sidelined him for quite some time. Junior guard Christian Little for the Knight’s carried the team with three assists and nine points in the first half.
At the beginning of the second half, Meadows hit his fourth three-pointer to tie the game at 37.
Later in the quarter, Price went on a run with mostly fast breaks leading to alley-oops and easy buckets. During the run, Griffins fans complained about calls by the refs, including what they thought were missed foul calls, poor out of bounds calls, and a couple of goal tending calls.
Hamilton called a timeout halfway through the third quarter. He stood at center court, arms crossed, glaring at the refs. The refs, however, did not budge staying at middle court speaking.
Hamilton and Butler both disputed foul calls with Butler showing the gash on his forearm to the refs as ‘evidence’ for fouling.
The third quarter ended with the Knights on top. Williams, even with four fouls, had 16 points and nine rebounds including five offensive rebounds.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Griffins cut the lead to only six, but the more athletic Knights pulled away, leading by 13 points at one point.
Butler had eight fourth quarter points and Meadows hit two more threes to bring back the team at the end, but it was simply too late for a comeback.
Butler finished with 21 points, Meadows finished with 22 points, and Clark finished with 15 points with help from seniors Mateen Zar, Josh Rosen, and Brendon Ferguson.
Little and Williams led the Knights with 33 combined points.
The Griffins faced a team with a strong man-to-man defense and the occasional zone defense that was just too long and big for the smaller Griffins team. They struggled getting the ball to the free throw line to break the zone and often relied only on three-point shooting.
The Knights handily got the ball inside and used the post to an advantage; they scored points off fast breaks and loose balls.
Price beat the Griffins in the end, 75-69.