El Camino Real ends their season in a close 58-53 playoff loss to Eagle Rock
After struggling through a five-game losing streak, the El Camino Real Royals maintained a .500 record the last eight games to earn the No.9 seed in the First Round of the CIF LA City Section Division I Playoffs. The 10-18 Royals traveled on the road on Wednesday, February 7th, 2024 to take on an eighth-seeded 16-10 Eagle Rock Eagles team on a five-game winning streak and winners of nine of their last ten games. The two teams battled in a contest filled with playoff intensity and loud crowd with both teams diving after every loose ball. The Royals were unable to overcome the Eagles in the fourth quarter in a 58-53 in spite of a valiant effort as their season came to a close.
Eagle Rock jumped out to an early 7-4 lead using their activity on the glass to gain extra possessions. El Camino began to move the ball offensively leading to back-to-back three pointers from junior shooting guard Shawn Tunson. The Eagles took a slim one-point lead into the second quarter where both teams were careless with the basketball to start the quarter. Eagle Rock began a backcourt press as they converted points off turnovers in a 9-2 run to take a 23-20 lead.
Fortunately for the Royals, Eagle Rock had trouble holding onto the basketball themselves, as El Camino tightened up their interior defense. Continuing to force mistakes from their opponent, El Camino went on an 8-0 run themselves to take a five-point lead, but senior Ethan Cook of Eagle Rock converted an alley-oop buzzer-beater to make the score 28-25 in favor of the Royals at the half.
The Royals went on a 7-2 run to begin the second half enforcing their will on the offensive boards. Not to be outdone, Eagle Rock started to hot from behind the arc with two triples resulting in a 8-2 run of their own. Both teams battled in a tightly contested third quarter, which featured a no-look dish from El Camino sophomore Charles Eleri to senior Brychon Streeter. The crowd began to get into the game when the Eagles began to win all of the hustle plays to end the third quarter.
El Camino took a slim 41-40 lead into the fourth quarter where there was a short delay twenty seconds into the quarter due to a shot clock malfunction. As play resumed, emotions began to run high as the Eagles went back to the backcourt press which was their bread & butter defensively in the first half. After converting a layup plus the foul to tie the game at 46, El Camino junior Quian Khawaja earned a technical foul after getting in the face of Cook. With 3:32 left in the game, Eagle Rock junior Nick Yutan knocked down both technical free throws and subsequently knocked down a three-pointer on the following possession to give the Eagles a five-point lead.
After the Royals converted one of two from the charity stripe, Eagle Rock senior guard Andrew Marz added to his eight fourth quarter points with a basket to extend the score to a 53-47 lead with less than 2:30 left. Tunson added back-to-back scores to cut the deficit to two, but couldn’t get off the schnide except once more. The Eagles converted one more time from the field, while converting 3/6 free throw attempts in the final minutes to secure the 58-53 win.
El Camino Real finished the season with a 10-19 record overall along with a 2-8 record in the West Valley League. Eagle Rock will travel on the road to face top-seeded George Washington Prep in the CIF LA City Section Division I Quarterfinals at 7:00 p.m..