SANTA ANA, CA - One of the best teams in Orange County clashed with a top Inland Empire squad in game nine of Nike Extravaganza 23, as Santa Margarita took apart Centennial-Corona, 61-35. Six-foot-eight junior Max Agbonkpolo exploded for 26 points, 14 of which came in the third quarter.
“We knew we needed to stop Clark and Davis because they are their best scorers, and we shut them down in the second half to get a big win,” Agbonkpolo said.
Santa Margarita’s focus on stopping Centennial’s Jaylen Clark (seven points on 3-of-11 shooting) and DJ Davis (11 points on 3-of-10 shooting) paid dividends, as the Eagles blew the game open in the third quarter. Sophomore Ryan Evans scored 13 points and dished out three assists, none bigger than a nice alley-oop pass to Agbonkpolo in the fourth quarter.
Boston University commit Jordan Guest dominated inside for Santa Margarita with 11 points and 10 rebounds. The Eagles out-rebounded Centennial by 24 and shot just under 20 percent better than the Huskies. Santa Margarita star forward Jake Kyman went down in the second quarter with an injury, and was helped off the floor.
At the time of Kyman’s injury, with under three minutes remaining in the second, Santa Margarita held a 23-19 advantage. The Eagles finished the half strong, eight straight points to secure a 10-point lead at the break. Davis scored all of his 11 points in the first half for Centennial, and only shot the ball one time in the third and fourth quarters. Centennial shot 26 percent for the half, a key stat indicative of how the rest of the game would turn out.
Santa Margarita grabbed an 11-8 lead early in the first quarter. Clark hit one of two free throws and Davis scored to end the quarter for Centennial, while Kyman and Evans hit three-pointers for the Eagles.
Agbonkpolo and Evans combined to score seven straight times for Santa Margarita in the third quarter. Guest scored the Eagles’ first points of the fourth quarter, posting up and creating space for an easy bucket.
Centennial is 8-0 in league and 16-10 overall with two regular season games left against Norco and King, before heading to the Southern Section playoffs. The Huskies currently rank 13th in the CIF Southern Section division one poll, but are not on the Open Division postseason watchlist.
Santa Margarita is 18-6 overall and 5-3 in conference play, with two Trinity League losses to Mater Dei and one to St. John Bosco. The Eagles host JSerra up next before a tough regular season finale on the road against Orange Lutheran. Santa Margarita currently ranks sixth on the Southern Section division one rankings list, and are considered a strong candidate for the open division playoffs.