Whenever junior point guard Kory Blunt of Birmingham steps onto the basketball court, you can be certain one of his father’s former teammates or friends is in the bleachers rooting him on.
It was in 2014 that Sean Blunt, an All-City football player at San Fernando who’d go on to play at UNLV and coach football at San Fernando, died of colon cancer. He was 48. Kory was 9. Since then, with help from his mother, Kim, and his father’s friends, Kory has continued on in a sports career in basketball.
“I had a falling out with football,” Blunt said. “I found out I like basketball more.”
Blunt scored 17 points Wednesday to help defending City Section champion Birmingham (11-7, 2-1) get back into the West Valley League race with a 59-56 home victory over Taft. He made two free throws with 11.4 seconds left for a three-point cushion.
Tyson Jackson’s three with 40 seconds left gave Birmingham the lead for good. Isaiah Lewis had 17 points for Taft (13-4, 2-1).
In a season that screams out for parity, the City Section Open Division seedings look as unpredictable as ever. On Tuesday, Palisades defeated 15-time champion Westchester for the first time since 1996. Venice stayed unbeaten in the Western League and could be in position to be the No. 1 seed if it knocks off Fairfax next week. And El Camino Real, which defeated Birmingham last week, is unbeaten in the West Valley League.
“It’s a rocky season,” Blunt said of the inconsistency. “We’re all somewhat new. No one really played extended minutes last season. We’re all in new roles.”
Blunt is becoming a go-to player for the Patriots. He’s football tough on his drives and is developing a reliable jump shot for someone 6 feet 2. And he’s never lacking in support. San Fernando Hall of Famer Chris Richards was in the bleachers cheering him on and probably thinking how proud his friend Sean Blunt would be of his son.
Blunt said he remembers something his father always asked him after practices when he was young.
“He’d ask me if I had fun.”
Blunt was asked if he had fun Wednesday.
“Of course,” he said.
El Camino Real 75, Chatsworth 63: The Royals put themselves in position to win the West Valley League title, setting up a showdown with Taft next week. Karson Peffer scored 28 points.
Granada Hills 53, Cleveland 41: Noah Ramirez led the Highlanders with 20 points.
Narbonne 76, Rancho Dominguez 61: Andrew Gill made eight threes and finished with 41 points for Narbonne.
Palisades 38, Westchester 32: The Dolphins held Westchester to two points in the first quarter in beating the Comets for the first time since 1996.
Venice 66, University 49: The Gondoliers are 7-0 in the Western League. Sophomore Noah Ta scored 14 points.
Fairfax 77, Hamilton 54: Jaden Hubbard scored 18 points for the 5-0 Lions.
Van Nuys 74, Canoga Park 30: Andrew Angulo had 22 points for Van Nuys.
Grant 65, Verdugo Hills 49: Jeremiah Windham finished with 35 points in the East Valley league game.
San Pedro 58, Carson 47: Boston Wimberly had 16 points for the Pirates (13-7, 2-2).
Sherman Oaks Notre Dame 72, Chaminade 45: Dusty Stromer had 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Knights, who clinched at least a share of their first Mission League title since 2001.
Sierra Canyon 122, Campbell Hall 45: Isaiah Elohim had 20 points, Mike Price 16 and Kijani Wright 14.
Mater Dei 77, Santa Margarita 32: Jenessa Cotton scored 15 points for the Monarchs.