Overcoming an early deficit, Montebello High School tipped off rivalry week Tuesday with a 66-47 victory over cross-town rival Schurr at Montebello.
Oiler center Antonio Worthy was too much for the Spartans as the 6-foot-11 senior was a force inside, scoring 18 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and blocking an impressive eight shots to lead Montebello to its 14th consecutive win.
The Oilers improved to 21-2 and are 5-0 at the halfway point of Almont League play. They host school district rival Bell Gardens at 5:15 p.m. Friday. Montebello won the first meeting between the teams, 79-64, Jan. 11 at B.G.
“It’s tough to beat anybody twice, no matter how good you are,” Montebello Coach Marino Angulo said. “We’re going to have play well to beat Bell Gardens because they gave us a game the first time we played them. They’re physical and they like to bring it. They drive, penetrate, dish and take looks. We’re going to be in for a game.”
The Oilers were in for a game at the outset of Tuesday’s meeting with Schurr, as the Spartans held them to nine points in the first quarter and took a 4-point lead into the second period.
“They (the Spartans) came out hot much like Keppel did in our last game,” said Angulo, recalling last Friday’s 56-42 victory by the Oilers at Keppel. “Keppel made all of their shots and it worried us a little bit. But I have faith that we’re going to be alright at the end of the game.”
Montebello got layups from Darius Middleton and Worthy, and a 3-pointer by Michael Carabes to end the second quarter and give the Oilers a 27-21 halftime lead.
A pair of layups by Worthy and a basket by Carabes to start the third quarter extended the lead to 33-21 and the Oilers were on their way to another victory.
Angulo said the key was getting the ball inside to Worthy.
“We have to be able to reverse the ball because when we get it to Antonio from the high post to the low post, there’s no real help, and that’s when he gets easier looks,” Angulo said.
However, convincing his players of that can be a struggle.
“I have kids telling me that they’re open, but so is Antonio and he’s got a layup,” Angulo said. “We have a 7-footer and we have to use him.”
Said Worthy: “It’s nice to get the ball, but I’ll pass it back outside to an open man if that’s what’s going to help us as a team.”
A defensive key was slowing down Schurr point guard Chris Rodriguez.
“He was much faster than I thought and he kept breaking us down,” Angulo said. “We had the wrong guys on him, so we made some adjustments and it kept him from beating us down the middle. It changed the whole game.”
He took away the assignment of guarding Rodriguez from Carabes and gave it to Middleton.
“Mike really wasn’t going to play because he sprained his ankle in practice yesterday,” Angulo said. “He was getting beat because it was a little swollen, so we switched mainly to Darius and he did a good job.”
Carabes finished the game with 14 points, including four 3-pointers. Middleton scored 13 and Richard De La Cruz had 10.
With the loss, Schurr dropped to 10-12 overall and 2-3 in league.
“We ran into a good team on their home court,” Schurr Coach Kevin Akiyama said. “We made a couple of mistakes and they capitalized on them.”
Schurr was led by Rodriguez with 14 points and Trevor Kureja and Jeffrey Acuna who had 11 each.
The Spartans play San Gabriel (2-12, 0-3) at 5:15 p.m. Friday at home.