La Verne Lutheran Hushes Frogs, 89-60, Faces Mater Dei on Saturday

February 1, 2012
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Grant Jerrett controls the tip to start the game.

Grant Jerrett controls the tip to start the game.

La Verne Lutheran raced out to a 10-0 lead and never looked back, crushing the Ribet Academy Fighting Frogs, 89-60, on the Trojans’ home court on Tuesday night in La Verne. Eric Cooper led the Trojans with 20 points. Also scoring in double digits for the Lutherans were Cameron Osorno with 17, McKay Anderson with 13, and Jay Miller with 12. The Frogs’ freshman sensation Tyler Dorsey led all scorers with 28 points.

The biggest question mark for the Trojans is how fast 6-foot-10 center Grant Jerrett’s left ankle will respond to treatment after the senior superstar twisted it early in the first quarter after going 3-for-3 and dominating the glass. The Trojans face Mater Dei on Saturday in the Nike Extravaganza.

“This is like the third time,” head coach Eric Cooper, Sr., said about losing his center to injury.

Fortunately, Cooper could call on 6-foot-6 wing man Anderson. “He’s been out for a month,” Cooper added. “We’ve been playing short-handed.”

Cooper might not have been able to persuade the Frogs that he was playing with a patched-up lineup. Despite the absence of Jerrett, Lutheran took a 30-10 first-quarter lead, featuring a suffocating defense and a fast-break offense for which the Frogs had no answer.

Coach Cooper recognizes star senior guard Brandon Shaw on senior night.

Coach Cooper recognizes star senior guard Brandon Shaw on senior night.

Midway through the second period, the Frogs reeled off 14 straight, a run finally broken by an Osorno free throw, but Cooper nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Trojans a comfortable 43-26 half-time lead.

In the second half, the Frogs never got within 17 points of the Trojans.

Although coming off back-to-back state championships, coach Cooper thinks this year’s team might be even better than the last two installments.

“When we’re healthy, I think they’re better,” Cooper said. “Because everybody can shoot, everybody can move, pass. There are no weak links at all.”

The supporting cast he has built around Jerrett has a lunch-pail, blue collar work ethic.

“There are no egos,” Cooper said. “It’s just different. These guys kind of went through a JV program. The other guys didn’t. It was harder for them to do some of the details. These guys had to do it in order to get playing time last year.”

His son, point guard Eric, Jr., is one of those emerging stars, detail-oriented players averaging nearly 20 points a game over the last several weeks.

“Because of injuries, he’s stepping up and doing it now,” Cooper offered.

Also, junior wing McKay and senior guards Osorno and Brandon Shaw look stronger, faster and more confident than a season ago, as do guards Jay Miller and Brian Beard, Jr., who are playing brilliantly.

“Now, it’s their turn,” Cooper suggested. “They’re trying to prove they can get a Division 1 scholarship

As good as the Trojans are, they face a tough assignment on Saturday night.

“We just got to get healthy somehow,” Cooper said.

Cooper’s team has been answering that “somehow” all season.

Before or after the game, head over to the Pizza Barns in La Verne for great pizza and daily specials.

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