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The San Clemente boys basketball team is looking to go 3-1 at the Cactus Jam Hoops Classic this week. Photo: Steve Breazeale
The San Clemente boys basketball team is looking to go 3-1 at the Cactus Jam Hoops Classic this week. Photo: Steve Breazeale

By Steve Breazeale

For in-game updates, scores, news and more for all of the San Clemente High School winter sports teams, follow us on Twitter @SouthOCsports.

Tritons Hoops Relying on Defense for Success

The San Clemente boys basketball team has been getting the job done throughout the nonleague schedule behind a stingy defensive effort.

The Tritons have held opponents to 50 or fewer points in six of their 13 games this season and, according to head coach Marc Popovich, have been holding opponents to a sub-40 shooting percentage from the field.

After knocking off West, University and Tustin, respectively, in the Irvine World News Tournament earlier this month, the Tritons found themselves in the tournament championship game against Esperanza on Dec. 20 and lost, 60-57. The Tritons had four players score in double digits in the title game, but had no answer for Esperanza’s Jarrett Brodbeck, who dropped a game-high 36 points in the win.

The Tritons held opponents to an average of 50.5 points per game during the tournament run, flashing potential of what Popovich believes could become a trend throughout the season.

“Our biggest thing is playing defense … That’s where we’ve hung our hat on,” Popovich said. “We’ve done a good job on the boards, keeping guys in front of us (on defense) and making guys take tough shots.”

San Clemente (7-6) traveled to Arizona to compete in the Cactus Jam Hoops Classic this week. They opened the tournament with a 76-60 win over Thunderbird of Phoenix, lost to Xaverian of Brooklyn, then defeated Archbishop Spalding on Dec. 29. They were set to finish the tournament with a game against Ambridge on Dec. 30. Results were not available at press time.

Tritons Soccer Takes Fourth at Home Showcase

The San Clemente High School boys soccer team placed fourth at their inaugural 2014 Lotto Sport Western Showcase tournament on Dec. 20. The Tritons faced Servite in the third-place game but gave up a late goal in a 1-0 loss.

San Clemente (6-4-2) headed north to compete in the Oceanside Classic from Dec. 27-30. They opened the tournament with a 0-0 draw with Mater Dei, then rattled off 2-0 and 3-0 wins over St. Francis and Central, respectively. The Tritons were set to play Los Alamitos on Dec. 30. Results were not available at press time.

Sophomore defender Tyler Bagley has been coming on strong for the Tritons in Dec. He scored two goals in a win over Century on Dec. 18 and scored a goal and tallied an assist in the win over Central.

Tritons Ride Unbeaten Streak into League Play

A 2-1 win over Long Beach Poly on Dec. 27 capped off the end of tournament play for the San Clemente girls soccer team and sent them into a lull in the schedule riding a three-match unbeaten streak.

San Clemente (2-4-2) closed out the Mater Dei Premier Invitational on Dec. 19 with a 1-1 tie against Woodrow Wilson, then drew with Chino Hills on Dec. 26 before defeating the Jackrabbits.

The Tritons now have a long break before opening up South Coast League play on the road against defending champion Aliso Niguel Jan. 8.

Water Polo Falls to Rosary

Five different players scored for the San Clemente girls water polo team in a nonleague match against Rosary on Dec. 20 but it was not enough, as the visitors narrowly edged out the Tritons in a 10-9 win.

Cassidy Smithson led the way for San Clemente (6-2) with four goals and three assists.

The Tritons entered the week ranked No. 1 in the CIF-SS Division 2 polls and were set to host Los Alamitos on Dec. 30. Results were not available at press time.

Girls Basketball Reaches Semis of Larry Doyle Championship

The San Clemente girls basketball team could not overcome a 22-point halftime deficit in the semifinal game of the Larry Doyle O.C. Championships on Dec. 29, ultimately falling to Clovis 69-52.

The Tritons (6-5) were set to play in the tournament’s third-place game against Edison on Dec. 30. Results were not available at press time.

Jenna Rodriguez’s 19 points and 14 rebounds led the way for San Clemente in the loss.

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