By Fred Robledo~SGV Tribune
One of the reasons Los Altos senior Jarod Lucas became the CIF Southern Section’s career scoring leader last week is his relentless work ethic, and one of the teammates by his side during most of his workouts is senior guard Mathew Barrera.
“One thing about Matt Barrera that nobody really knows, I come to the gym at six in the morning and shoot before school and he’s the only guy there with me,” Lucas said.
Lucas did his thing scoring 36 points in Friday’s 81-70 victory over visiting Crossroads in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 first round, but it was Barrera’s 23 points that were crucial, because whenever the Roadrunners would make runs, it was Barrera answering with big shots.
“Those are just shots you shoot every day to be prepared for the moment,” Barrera said.
Los Altos coach Jeff Lucas wasn’t surprised.“Matt’s a great guy, he’s put in so much work for a guy who didn’t play much last year,” Jeff Lucas said. “He puts in the work every day, every morning and night with Jarod. And with them doubling Jarod, he was able to hit some big shots for us tonight.”
It was a win that avenged a two-point playoff loss to Crossroads last year, and sets up another rematch for Los Altos (24-5) as it advances to the second round on Tuesday to meet No. 2 seed Damien (25-5) on the road. Damien advanced with a 59-43 victory over Maranatha.
When Damien met Los Altos last year it was billed as a big one in the San Gabriel Valley, but Damien made it a clinic, beating Los Altos, 99-63.Will it be different this time around?
“It’s going to be a good match-up,” Jarod Lucas said. “We’re going to get ready and they’re going to get ready. We know they’re a great problem. It should be a good one.”
That was Lucas making sure not to offer any bulletin board material, something his dad and coach, Jeff Lucas echoed as well.
“They’re the best private school in the Valley and we’re the best public school over the last few years,” Jeff Lucas said. “Obviously they took it to us last year, so we have to be ready on Tuesday night.”
Los Altos showed its growth beating Crossroads, a team that featured Shaquille O’Neal’s son, Shaqir O’Neal, a 6-foot-2 sophomore who finished with nine points, and Miles Ceballos, the son of former Lakers player Cedric Ceballos. Miles scored 12 and Yuuki Okubo led all Roadrunners scorers with 14 points.
Crossroads is also the school that has LeBron James’ son Bronny, but he’s still in eighth grade and won’t be there until next season.
Crossroads had a size advantage with 6-foot-10 freshman Henri Adiassa, but the Conqueors held him to eight points, and did a good job on the boards, despite being undersized.
“We just came out and played our game and defended home court,” Barrera said. “We wanted it more than anybody. We have great guys who wanted to get the job done.”
Lucas scored 13 points in the second quarter, mostly from the line and the Conquerors led by 9 midway through.
After Crossroads cut their lead to four, Lucas and Barrera answered with back-to-back 3 pointers to go up 40-30 and they led by 10 at half.
After Crossroads cut Los Altos’ lead to 45-38 midway through the third quarter, Barrera nailed a 3-pointer and then after a Conquerors’ steal, he finished on the break for a 50-38 lead.
Lucas closed the show with 12 points in the fourth quarter. Crossroads cut Los Altos’ lead to five points twice, but each time the Conquerors’ answered and pulled away over the final two minutes.