King/Drew dominates Palisades and emerges as highest-seeded team left in Open Division

The King/Drew boys’ basketball team was not awarded the the top seed in the City Section Open Division playoffs, but it sure played as if it were No. 1 Friday night.

Motivated by a stunning one-point loss to rival Washington Prep in their Coliseum League finale seven days earlier, the Golden Eagles came out shooting — and scoring — on their home court, leading by as many as 30 points before finishing with a 77-60 quarterfinal victory over Palisades.

Showing its athleticism and long-range prowess, King/Drew made 13 three-pointers — including six by Jayshawn Kibble and five by Josahn Webster — and on a wild night that saw top-seeded Cleveland toppled by eighth-seeded LACES, No. 4 Westchester go down to No. 5 Chatsworth and No. 3 Birmingham survive in overtime against No. 6 Grant, the second-seeded Golden Eagles (17-11) are the highest seed left in the division.

“In our hearts we knew we deserved the No. 1 seed, but we want to win regardless of where we’re seeded,” said Donald Thompson, who had 18 points, including a steal and a windmill dunk that gave the hosts a 56-28 lead early in the third quarter. “We scouted them and knew mainly they like to drive and kick, so we had to defend that. This is our home court and it took three or four minutes to settle in. After that, we started knocking down shots.”

Palisades scored the first five points, but King/Drew rattled off the next nine. The seventh-seeded Dolphins surged back in front 11-10 before the Golden Eagles closed the first quarter on a 9-0 run and never looked back. They widened the gap to 32-16 over the next four minutes and took a 43-24 halftime lead thanks to back-to-back threes by Webster and a twisting layup by Thompson.

Webster is the son of King/Drew coach Lloyd Webster and his 25-point performance made Dad proud. Kibble finished with 24.

King/Drew point guard Donald Thompson scored 18 points in the Golden Eagles’ 77-60 victory over Palisades on Friday.

King/Drew point guard Donald Thompson scored 18 points in the Golden Eagles’ 77-60 victory over Palisades on Friday.

(Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

“There’s talk going around that we only have two and a half players and we didn’t deserve the No. 2 seed, but Washington Prep is a fabulous squad and I give them credit,” Webster said. “That hardened our kids. They couldn’t wait to get back on the floor.”

This is King/Drew’s fifth consecutive year playing in the Open Division, and Webster says he hopes his team’s time has come. The blowout win was King/Drew’s first Open Division victory since beating Taft in 2020 before it lost in the semifinals. The Golden Eagles lost in the semifinals again the next year, reached the final in 2022 and lost to eventual champion Taft in the quarterfinals last winter.

“A lot of people think our section is down, but City basketball is alive and well,” Webster said. “Same thing in the Southern Section. There’s a lot of parity and that’s good because it makes the playoffs more interesting.”

Jordan Farhadian led Palisades with 16 points.

Even making the Open Division was an accomplishment for the Dolphins (11–15), who won 10 of their last 13 regular-season games under interim coach LeBre Merritt and finished second in the Western League after a 1-11 start.

King/Drew takes on Birmingham in the semifinals Feb. 17 at El Camino College.

The same schools faced off in the Open Division girls’ quarterfinals earlier Friday evening, and King/Drew prevailed 56-45 over Palisades. Christiauna Taylor and Alexis Wallace each scored 14 for the fourth-seeded Golden Eagles (18-7). Elly Tierney had 18 for No. 5 Palisades (17-11).

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