Segerstrom’s players knew it had been a while since their school’s varsity boys basketball team had defeated Westminster.
They did not know Westminster had an 11-game winning streak against them.
That streak ended Friday when Segerstrom beat Westminster 58-54 in the championship game of the Century Elks Classic tournament at Century High.
Segerstrom and Westminster are Golden West League rivals. They will play each other twice in league play, with the first game Jan. 12 at Westminster.
Senior point guard AJ Espinoza led Segerstrom (7-4) with 15 points. Abraham Negrete added 13 points and Jeffrey Nong scored 10 for the Jaguars.
Espinoza is 5-foot-7 but it was his in-traffic layup, off of a fine pass from Negrete, that gave the Jaguars a 54-53 lead with a minute to play. Westminster tied it on a free throw by Anthony Nguyen. Negrete put in a reverse layup to put Segerstrom back on top 56-54.
Espinoza made two free throws with 25 seconds remaining to seal the win over the Lions (6-8).
“We weren’t aware of the 11-game streak,” Espinoza, who was selected tournament MVP, said afterward. “But we were aware they had beaten us twice last year.”
Segerstrom had its biggest lead of 12 points at halftime. The Lions’ Isaiah Lee then sparked a rally that cut the Jaguars’ lead to 44-43 going into the fourth quarter.
Lee, a 6-foot-1 junior guard, paced Westminster with 20 points including four 3-points. Nguyen scored 12 points.
The tournament championship game had the intensity of a league game, with plenty of bodies on the floor and every shot contested. Segerstrom emphasizes quickly and patiently moving the ball around on offense.
“Since we’re so under-sized,” Espinonza said, “we have to get every a lot of touches. That’s been our winning formula so far this year.”
Jaguars coach Brandon Rogers was pleased with the effort and performance.
“We’re getting to the point where what we go over in practice and shoot-arounds is translating to the…