First-time Walker Cup semi-finalists, Haile Selassie High, will look to continue their Cinderella run when they face Jamaica College (JC) in the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/FLOW knockout competition at Constant Spring Complex today. Kick-off time is 3 p.m. The game is one of a double-header, with the opener featuring Kingston College (KC) and Bridgeport High, set to start at 1 p.m. Geoffrey Maxwell has been creating waves with Haile Selassie and after an impressive performance in which they beat Excelsior High 6-5 in a penalty shootout last Saturday, he is confident of beating another traditional top schoolboy team. “It is going to be a very competitive game. I have a fair idea of what to expect from JC. We have to play our game and counter them,” Maxwell told The Gleaner yesterday. “They know what they can achieve, and we are pretty confident that we can win the game and advance to the final,” added the former Jamaica player and coach. Haile Selassie’s top players include captain Ricardo Phipps, Akeem Grandison, Hamish Smith and Chase Knight. Miguel Coley, JC’s head coach, said Haile Selassie is a dangerous team. “They (Haile Selassie) have been playing good football, so we are looking forward to a tough game tomorrow,” Coley said. “It is a semi-final game so the winner will go to the final. We are ready for anything,” he also said. JC will rely on captain Oquin Robinson, Ronaldo Brown, Donovan Dawkins, Maliek Howell and Duhaney Williams. In the first game, red-hot KC are fancied to get the better of Bridgeport. Under the guidance of Ludlow Bernard, KC have been scoring heavily this season, so they have enough firepower to push Bridgeport on the back foot and take the game. The KC key players include Rashawn Mackison, Travonne Reid and Fabian Grant. Bridgeport, on the other hand, have a young team that could create a huge upset on the day.
Mata, one of the worst free throw shooters in the nation, provided the emotion with his spot-on foul shooting and career-high 14 points as the fourth-ranked Bruins held their lead atop the Pacific 10 Conference with an 85-75 victory over Cal in front of 11,230 Thursday. UCLA (24-3, 13-2 Pac-10) can clinch at least a share of the Pac-10 title by beating Stanford on Saturday, and with it the Bruins, by virtue of holding most of the tie-breaker advantages, would likely the No. 1 seed in the Pac-10 tournament. Shipp had his second straight big game with a game-high 22 points as the Bruins embarrassed a porous Cal defense en route to shooting 61.1 percent from the field, but it was Mata’s prowess from the foul line that kick-started UCLA. Usually, Mata making two free throws is a windfall for UCLA, but against the Bears, it was only the start. He hit his first two free throws with 3:54 remaining in the first half to cut Cal’s lead to 30-26, but it wasn’t the end. After Shipp scored, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute drove and scored and then had a pump-fake and dunk. Mata ended the run and gave the Bruins a 34-32 lead with two more free throws 52.9 seconds before the half. “It’s just a matter of confidence,” Mata said. “I’ve been shooting them well in practice. It’s just been getting them to a game. I’ll make them, so don’t foul me anymore.” Mata finished 8 of 9 from the free throw line, and actually made nine straight dating back to last week’s game at Arizona. Before that, Mata had made 8 of 27 free throw attempts over an 11-game span. “I expect him to make them like that the rest of the year,” UCLA coach Ben Howland said. “He’s been shooting them real well. We did change a tiny little thing, but it’s just relaxing. I’m just happy for him because he’s put the work in.” Mata’s success from the free-throw line is parallel to his play lately. He scored in double figures each of the last three games. His play gives the Bruins a low-post option at a crucial time. “It’s hard to beat us (when Mata is scoring),” said Collison. “You can’t just focus on one guy. You have to focus on all five of us on the court, and anytime he scores down there, it makes it easier for all of us.” firstname.lastname@example.org (818) 713-3607 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Lorenzo Mata stood at the foul line, bounced the basketball a few times and released it toward the rim. The ball bounced high, off the back of the iron, and fell harmlessly to the floor. Yet, many in sold out Pauley Pavilion rose to their feet and applauded Mata, because for once his miss from the line was well beyond the norm. That came after second-place Washington State (22-5, 11-4) lost at Oregon 64-59 to fall two games behind the Bruins. “It doesn’t mean anything to us. We just have to come out and win our game,” UCLA wing Josh Shipp said. “We’re focused on Stanford right now. (The Pac-10 title) all adds to it, but I feel like we play hard no matter what.” The Cougars’ loss at Oregon capped a stellar night for the Bruins, led by Mata. A 30.9 percent free throw shooter entering the game, Mata made his first seven attempts from the line, with the initial two triggering a 10-2 run that gave slow-starting UCLA a lead it did not relinquish. During a ridiculously easy second half, UCLA shot 64.5 percent as Shipp, Arron Afflalo and, really, any other Bruin who wanted to, scored on lay-ins or dunks. The Bears (14-13, 6-9) were crushed in transition, and care free in the half-court. At one point, UCLA led by 26 points before Cal scored a few late baskets to distort the competitiveness of the game. “We just couldn’t play defense consistently enough inside-out,” Cal coach Ben Braun said. “It’s uncharacteristic of us. We gave up those inside baskets not to just the post players, but to Josh, Arron and Darren (Collison).”