By Steve Breazeale

The San Clemente boys basketball team is used to having any one of their starting five players step up and own the night. The teams’ CIF-SS Div. 1A opening round matchup against visiting Capistrano Valley on February 15 was no different.

Senior Jimmy Bankson scored a game-high 30 points in the Tritons 71-52 win and fueled an 18-0 run midway through the second quarter that ultimately distanced the home team from the Cougars.

Bankson poured in 18 points in the first half and saved some of his biggest shots for the second quarter, when the Tritons trailed 17-15. After a steal and a layup by Tritons sophomore Nick Crankshaw put San Clemente up 19-18 at the five minute mark, Bankson drilled a quick 3-pointer on the next possession to make it 22-18. He would score five more points in the quarter to push the Tritons lead to 35-22 at the half.

“I felt good going into the game and I knew that if I could knock down a couple shots early I could get into a rhythm,” Bankson said. “A few went in early so I knew that tonight might be a good night for me so I kept letting it go and they went in.”

The Tritons stretched their lead to 55-33, the largest it would be all night, midway through the third quarter and threw their defensive efforts at the Cougars standout junior guard Jacob Short, who scored six of his team-high 20 points in the third.

The game served as a homecoming of sorts for Capistrano Valley coach Brian Mulligan, who played his high-school ball at San Clemente and has deep roots in the program.

Capistrano Valley fought back and played even in the closing quarter but it was too little too late. San Clemente will now travel to play Millikan on February 19.

“We’re confident right now but we have to put it behind us and focus on the next game and just look forward to next week,” Bankson said.

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