While many of us were putting away the holiday decorations and coming back from vacations, the Poly Varsity boys basketball team was already in the gym preparing for the Huntington Park Invitational tournament. The tournament ran from Jan. 3-6. Poly was coincidentally placed in the Orange division, which consisted of 14 schools, most of which have much larger enrollment numbers from the Los Angeles City section. However that did not affect the Panthers.
In pool play, Poly went 2-0, beating Nogales High School 52-49 and Diego Rivera High School 62-50, earning them a spot in the semi-finals. There they faced Edgewood High School and came out on top, beating the Lions 60-40. The finals proved to be much tougher. The Panthers took on the Jaguars from Mendez High School from Boyle Heights. The Jaguars took an early lead and maintained the lead for most of the game. The Panthers found themselves with a 16-point deficit early in the third quarter. This did not discourage them. Poly dug deep and slowly chipped away at the lead, fighting hard and proving their resilience and tenacity. It came down to the last few seconds of the game. Senior Graham Olson made two free throws giving Poly a one-point lead. Senior Jackson Hayes sealed the deal making his two free throws at the very end of the game earning Poly the win over the Jaguars 57-54. Hayes was named to the All-Tournament team, and sophomore Nick Richard-Craven was named tournament MVP.
This win gives the Panthers great momentum as they start league play. Poly opens up league by hosting Rio Hondo Prep today at 6:30 p.m. Check out the Athletic Calendar for details and a full schedule of games this week.