The Montgomery High School boys basketball team is used to being in the spotlight within the San Diego Section but the Aztecs took their game to another level when they hosted nationally-ranked Sierra Canyon in the opener of the second annual San Diego Tip-Off Challenge on Nov. 21 in front of ESPN cameras.
The Sierra Canyon lineup included sons of NBA super stars LeBron James and Dwayne Wade.
Bronny James, a freshman, dropped in 10 points while Zaire Wade, a senior, collected six points for the Trailblazers.
LeBron James, currently playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, has won three NBA championships and is a four-time league MVP.
The elder Wade, who was in attendance at the game, won three NBA championships as well as the NBA scoring championship in 2009.
The Aztecs, who were coming off a 27-5 season in 2018-19 with an appearance in the section’s Division I semifinals, showed the capacity crowd what they were made of in the David versus Goliath-type match-up. Sierra Canyon, the two-time defending Open Division state champions, came out with guns blazing in racking up a 28-5 first quarter lead en route to a 56-21 halftime lead.
With the Trailblazers bench seeing more action in the second half, the score differential was obviously closer. Sierra Canyon outscored Montgomery 28-15 in the third quarter.
The Aztecs won the fourth quarter 8-7 en route to a 91-44 non-league loss.
Freshman Nico Reyes led Montgomery with 12 points while sophomore Tedrous Teshome scored 10 points. Junior Atravian Epps and senior Jae Hickman both dropped in seven points while junior Eddie Magdalena collected five points.
Teshome and Reyes wowed the home crowd with three successful three-point shots apiece. Hickman led the team with five rebounds.
Senior Brandon Boston Jr. led Sierra Canyon with 22 points while senior Tarren Frank was next up with 20 points.
The Trailblazers’ other weapon was seven-foot-three junior center Harold Yu, who could block shots and grab rebounds without leaving the floor.
He quickly became a crowd favorite.
Montgomery rebounded from the season opening loss to the Trailblazers by defeating Sweetwater, 64-53, the following afternoon.
Junior Issac Guel keyed the Aztecs with 20 points and seven rebounds against the Red Devils while Hickman followed with 13 points. Reyes also reached double figures in the scoring column with 11 points.
Montgomery closed out the 10-team showcase event with an 84-65 loss to St. Augustine, currently ranked third in the section by MaxPreps. Magdalena keyed the hosts with 15 points in the setback.
Sierra Canyon completed tournament play with wins over St. Augustine (75-54) and Cathedral Catholic (59-46).
Boston (23 points) and Frank (22 points) combined for 45 points in the win over St. Augustine, which trailed just 27-25 at halftime in an upset bid.
The showcase also included Mission Bay and Helix. St. Augustine topped Helix, 76-70, while Mission Bay dealt Sweetwater a 66-56 setback in games prior to the Montgomery-Sierra Canyon tip-off.
Helix topped Sweetwater, 73-56, on the final day of the showcase.
“It was fun and all,” Magdalena said in regard to matching up against Sierra Canyon. “We saw what they had and we played hard. At the end of the day they’re ranked and we’re not. It was really exciting. With the players we have, I think we will do well in league and CIF.”
“They’re the standard,” Montgomery head coach Ed Martin said in regard to Sierra Canyon. “We want to be where they are at the end of the season. But we have to play teams like these guys (in the Tip-off Classic) to get there.”
Mater Dei Catholic is currently ranked fifth among the section’s Division I teams while Montgomery is ranked 12th.
Poway (5-0) and Santa Fe Christian (6-0) top the section’s Division I rankings.
43rd Annual Hilltop Invitational
Friday, Dec. 6
Otay Ranch 69, Hilltop 42
Mission Bay 66, Helix 44
Eastlake 74, Canyon Crest Academy 69
Westview 56, La Jolla 42
Saturday, Dec. 7
Otay Ranch 58, La Jolla 52
Hilltop 63, Westview 51
Canyon Crest Academy 52, Helix 44
Eastlake 69, Mission Bay 44
Tuesday, Dec. 10
Otay Ranch 45, Westview 40
La Jolla 63, Hilltop 49
Helix 59, Eastlake 50
Canyon Crest Academy 39, Mission Bay 38
Wednesday, Dec. 11
Canyon Crest Academy 59, Otay Ranch 52
Mission Bay 63, Hilltop 21
Westview 54, Eastlake 49