If there’s a night that could justify a school not feeling disheartened after getting swept at home in the state playoffs, this was it for Edison High.
It wasn’t so much about the Tigers’ losses Wednesday — 52-39 to West-Torrance for their girls, 64-52 to Village Christian-Sun Valley for their boys — it was more about the quality of those teams that traveled more than 200 miles each from the powerful Southern Section for the Southern California Division 1 Regionals.
Further, they were Division 1A and 1AA champions — representing the largest divisions by enrollment in a section with nearly 600 schools.
But West (No. 10) and Village Christian (No. 9) were not only slapped with seeds lower than expected by the state’s 10 commissioners, they were forced to travel.
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Such is the bane of playing in a section that advanced six D-1 teams each from the girls and boys to the state’s elite Open Division, which draws what the commissioners deem the state’s best teams combined from all divisions.
As a result — with that many D-1 teams from their own section considered more qualified — West and Village Christian were shipped out.
Bennie Boatwright Jr., a USC-bound 6-foot-10 senior with marvelous accuracy from afar, scored 34 points as the Crusaders improved to 29-6 with the boys win.
West’s 25-7 girls were more balanced in their scoring, led by sophomore Jasmine Jones’ 13.
“It’s good to have the best player on the floor,” Village Christian coach Jon Shaw said of Boatwright, who routinely stared down Edison fans and coaches after scoring.
The Crusaders also received eight points and one particularly notable offensive rebound when his head nearly struck the rim from 6-4 Clifton Powell Jr., whose father, actor/comedian Clifton Powell Sr., was typically vocal and animated while sitting (not often) on the first row next to the team bench.
The actor, joined by his family, posed afterward for countless picture requests from Edison students and adults.
Junior guard Ruben Parks scored 18 points, including four 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes for Edison, which finished 22-9 under coach T.J. Wilkins four days after beating Bullard for a second-straight Central Section D-1 crown.
West-Torrance girls coach Mike Caporaso was baffled as to why his team not only was stuck with a No. 10 seed, but shipped to Fresno to play an Edison team that placed second to Clovis West Saturday night for the Central Section D-I title at Selland Arena.
The Warriors, seeded fourth in the Southern Section D-1AA tournament, blasted that event’s top seed, Burroughs-Burbank, 54-31, in the semifinals and No. 2 seed Troy-Fullerton 52-41 for a repeat section title.
Then they were bused 240 miles to Fresno, bolted to a 15-6 first-quarter lead and were never seriously threatened.
“We are good at being the underdog, apparently,” Caporaso said. “It’s kind of fun being the hunter.”
He said he has grown accustomed to disrespect in Torrance.
“People don’t like us, I don’t know. It’s kind of been the way it is. Back-to-back CIF champs. I don’t know what to say.”
Jones, one of the Warriors’ team captains despite her youth, said the most.
Edison’s girls closed 26-5 in coach Bill Engel’s second go-around with the program. He’s 107-15 total with three section championships in four years with the Tigers.
“I took over in October, having had no summer with the girls,” he said. “just being throwing into the fray and for us to get to Selland as far as we did, I’m real happy.
“West was just better than us tonight.”
Guard Addie Curtis and post Rodjanae Wade led Edison with 14 and 12 points.
The 6-2 Wade and guards Jerrene Richardson, Liz Randles and Malaya Kendrick all return next season.
“That’s a really good corps,” Engel said.