More than three months into the high school basketball season, it’s no longer surprising when Maranatha High School’s Tyler Dorsey lights up the scoreboard with impressive point totals. The senior leads the CIF-Southern Section in points per game and will be suiting up for the Oregon Ducks later this year.
While 40-point games — Dorsey has reached that plateau 10 times — are nothing new, the future Duck outdid himself last Saturday night, pouring in a career-high 52 points during an 85–60 win over West Hills Chaminade High School in the second round of the CIF-State Division 4 playoffs.
“He does wow me,” said Maranatha head coach Tim Tucker. “… He’s starting his jumper in his legs. When he’s shooting with confidence, we’re pretty good. When he had the 37 the other night [against Pacific Ridge], he was hitting some big shots. When I see him get into his rhythm and pull up, I know he’s feeling it. I let him go.”
Dorsey, who scored 20 points in the fourth quarter alone, raised his season average to 34.3 points per game. He made 14 of 19 shots from the field, including 7 of 9 from behind the arc, and also converted 17 of 25 from the free-throw line.
“I was just trying to close the show and just put on a show for my city, man,” said Dorsey, who returned to his hometown of Pasadena this season after winning a state championship with Bellflower St. John Bosco High School last year.
Leading by only four points early in the fourth quarter, the No. 2-seeded Minutemen (22–8) definitely needed Dorsey’s late outburst. They also needed junior center Trevor Stanback to return to the court. Maranatha’s primary rim protector was forced to the sidelines with foul trouble in the first half, opening up the lane for the Eagles’ senior duo of Michael Oguine (27 points) and Jordan Ogundiran (13 points).
Stanback, who transferred out of Chaminade after winning a state championship last season, could only watch as his current teammates struggled to stop his former teammates from getting to the cup. It got worse for Stanback during a scary moment at the beginning of the third quarter when the Eagles’ bruising center, Bar Milo, undercut him on a dunk attempt. Stanback landed on his face and remained motionless on the ground for nearly five minutes before walking to the bench under his own power.
“I thought it was kind of disrespectful to go and foul me on purpose,” said Stanback. “They all seemed fine with it.”
Stanback’s teammates, however, were not fine with it.
“I felt some type of way when he went down,” said Dorsey. “I just wanted to win that game for him, most importantly because it was personal, because that’s his old school and that’s what I wanted to do.”
Maranatha trainers cleared Stanback to return in the fourth quarter, and the capacity crowd roared as he made his way to the scorers’ table to check back into the game. But that noise hardly compared to the sheer pandemonium when Stanback sank a jumper shortly thereafter to give the Minutemen a 56–50 lead.
“Once I found out I was able to play again, I was motivated,” said Stanback, who later threw down a dunk and finished with six points.
The Minutemen outscored the No. 7-seeded Eagles 32–15 in the fourth quarter, including a 26–7 run to close the game. Dorsey led the way, draining back-to-back threes to give Maranatha an 18-point cushion. The second three came from well behind the line and confirmed that he was on a completely different level than the other nine players on the court. Dorsey scored his 50th point at the free-throw line with 35 seconds remaining, then punctuated his outstanding performance with a steal and fast-break dunk moments later.
“I looked at [the scoreboard] maybe once, but I don’t worry about that,” he said. “… I just stayed in attack mode the whole game. That’s how I got my 52. My teammates were finding me and I was just knocking down the shots.”
Lost in Dorsey’s masterpiece was the gritty play of Jesse Elrod. The seldom-used sophomore was thrust into action when Stanback left the game, and he made the most of his increased opportunity. Elrod, who entered the contest averaging just 3.3 points per game, scored 10 points and led the Minutemen with nine rebounds. He was one missed three-pointer away from a perfect shooting night and also added two assists and a blocked shot.
“I think he’s just grown up,” said Tucker. “He’s worked with Trevor now and it’s just awesome what he’s doing. It’s a big contribution.”
Said Dorsey: “Jesse’s going to be real good. He’s underrated now. … He’s going to get in the weight room next year and he’s going to do real damage. He came a long way since the beginning of the season, so I’m proud of him.”
Elrod remained humble, taking his good game in stride and crediting others.
“I had opportunities that my teammates set me up for,” he said. “I just finished it off with rebounds.”
Junior Zachary Smalley also turned in a well-rounded line for Maranatha, scoring five points with five assists, four rebounds and three steals before fouling out in the third quarter. Junior Sean Romero hit two three-pointers for six points, while seniors Tey Williams and Alex Vernon chipped in two points apiece.
The Minutemen advanced to the quarterfinals of the state tournament, where they hosted another Mission League team in No. 3-seeded Encino Crespi High School on Tuesday night.
Originally published for the Pasadena Outlook Newspaper on March 19, 2015.
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