By Zach Cavanagh
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Fourth-Grade Basketball Team Advances to NJB Nationals
San Clemente again will be on the national stage.
The National Junior Basketball fourth-grade San Clemente Black team compiled a perfect 6-0 record through the area and sectional tournaments to advance to the NJB All-Star National Tournament on March 23-24.
The opening ceremony for the tournament will be at Valencia High School in Placentia on Friday, March 22. Games will be contested around Orange County at Mater Dei, Foothill and Valencia High Schools and Chapman University.
The nationals-bound San Clemente Black team roster is comprised of Preston Getz, Jack Flagler, Collin Sobloski, Gavin Pierce, Colton Walz, Hudson Merritt, Jack Dunbar, Julian Duzman and Barrett Wood. The coaches are Dylan Fisher and Mitch Pierce.
The San Clemente Black team began its journey in the area tournament on March 2-3 at Chapman University and Newport Harbor High School.
San Clemente opened with a hard-fought win over Ladera Ranch, 42-39, and cruised past Rancho Santa Margarita, 51-28, and Newport Mesa Silver, 45-27.
As the top two area teams, San Clemente and Ladera Ranch advanced to the sectional tournament on March 9-10 at Ensign Intermediate School in Newport Beach, on the way to another showdown.
San Clemente knocked out Newport Mesa Silver, 45-28, and crushed Los Alamitos, 49-23, to set up a classic rematch against Ladera Ranch.
San Clemente and Ladera Ranch exchanged leads all game, with Ladera Ranch going ahead by one point with 20 seconds remaining. On the next possession, San Clemente’s Flagler knocked down the go-ahead basket with only three seconds left to clinch the win, 51-50.
San Clemente’s other fourth-grade NJB team, San Clemente Red, also advanced to sectionals.
In the area tournament, San Clemente Red went 2-1 in its pool with wins over La Habra, 55-20, and Corona Norco, 27-17. In the sectional tournament, San Clemente Red went 1-2, with a win over Anaheim Hills, 36-35, and a tight loss against Lake Forest, 35-31.