By Steve Breazeale
The San Clemente boys basketball team made plans to enter the competitive Diablo Inferno Tournament at Mission Viejo High School during the offseason. They were counting on having reigning Sea View League MVP Sam Darnold on the court at the time, but an injury to the standout forward has him sidelined until late December.
So when the Tritons (0-2) took to the hardwood for their first game against Woodbridge on December 2, it was an exercise in piecing together the young lineup, figuring out which rotations work best.
The Tritons return only three players from last year’s Sea View League championship season, Darnold, junior Nick Crankshaw and sophomore Cole Fotheringham. In the first two games, both Crankshaw and Fotheringham have logged heavy minutes.
Crankshaw is coming back from a leg injury and played efficient basketball in the Tritons’ 70-62 loss to Notre Dame on December 3. Crankshaw scored 14 points and was active in getting the ball in the post, as well as acting as a distributor when handling the ball.
With the Tritons down 24-12 early in the second quarter, Crankshaw, along with senior forward Austin Miller, ignited a 16-9 San Clemente run that brought them to within five points at the half. Miller scored 15 points and was a part of the main starting rotation.
“Miller is a kid that’s really gotten a lot better in recent weeks and he’s really asserting himself,” head coach Marc Popovich said. “That’s the kind of thing you like to see in this type of year, seeing a kid come in and really develop and really play.”
The Tritons would get it as close as 63-60 late in the game against Notre Dame but could not overcome the deficit in the loss.
The Tritons will keep mixing and matching their lineup throughout the tournament, which ends with their final game against Saddleback Valley Christian on December 5 at 8 p.m.