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By Steve Breazeale
The CIF-SS playoffs are officially upon us, which means for each San Clemente winter sports team that has advanced to the final tournament, every game from here on out is the most important one of the season. This week’s Triton Report will break down the playoff matches that have already taken place and prime you for the games still to be played this week.
For in-game updates and news throughout the playoffs, follow us on Twitter @SouthOCsports.
Tritons Girls Soccer Set for Match With Lions
The San Clemente girls soccer team drew a tough one in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs and will host JSerra Catholic out of the Trinity League on Feb. 21 at 3 p.m.
San Clemente is coming off a 3-0 victory over rival Dana Hills on Feb. 12 that sealed a second-place finish in the South Coast League. The Tritons got goals from Nikki Faris, Natalie Higgins and Katie Milberger. Farris’ goal was her team-leading 20th of the season.
The Lions finished third in the competitive Trinity League this season, compiling a 14-3-5 overall record and 3-2 record in league play.
De Gree Makes History, Tritons Girls Hoops Eyes Edison in CIF Opener
The San Clemente girls basketball team topped off another perfect run through the South Coast League on Feb. 12, defeating Aliso Niguel 98-67 to finish unbeaten in league play for a second straight year. The league championship marks the 15th in the girls basketball program’s history.
The Tritons (18-8, 8-0) have had a good amount of support throughout their lineup, but at the center of it all is senior post player Jessica de Gree, who has put together one of the most stellar performances in the area this season.
De Gree was already on pace to finish the season averaging a double-double stat line, and what she did against the Wolverines on Feb. 12 served as an exclamation mark to the regular season.
De Gree dropped a school record 50 points in the win, eclipsing the old mark of 48 points held by Cassie Harberts, who now plays for USC.
De Gree made 21 field goals and shot 65.6 percent from the field, both new school records.
Head coach Lacey Burns pinpoints last offseason as the moment when de Gree shifted from role player to standout offensive focal point. The coaching staff approached her with the idea of stepping up her offensive production. The soon to be senior bought in. She finished the regular season averaging 23.2 points and 12.8 rebounds per game.
“At the end of her junior year the coaching staff met with her to construct a workout plan that would transition her from a role player to the main scorer,” Burns said. “She has stepped up tremendously … You want your best player to be your hardest worker, and that’s Jessica.”
The Tritons now head into the CIF-SS Division 1AA playoffs with an opening round game against a familiar opponent in Edison. The two teams squared off in early January and the Tritons came away with a 66-57 victory. The game is set to take place at San Clemente on Feb. 22 at 7 p.m.
Tritons Boys Soccer Ready to Defend CIF-SS Title
The San Clemente boys soccer team will begin their CIF-SS Division 1 Championship title defense on Feb. 20 with a match against Mira Costa at 3 p.m.
The Tritons (21-2-1, 5-1) put together another strong regular season performance, marred only by a 2-1 loss to rival Capistrano Valley in South Coast League play. The Tritons rebounded nicely following the loss and recorded four consecutive shutouts to cap off the regular season. In their last six games, the Tritons have outscored their opponents 12-2.
Mira Costa (8-8-5, 3-3-1) finished third in the Bay League standings.
Brubaker Set to Attend Fresno State
San Clemente senior Taylor Brubaker will attend Fresno State University to play volleyball next fall. The senior outside hitter helped lead the Tritons to a 13-13 overall record and an appearance in the second round of the CIF-SS Division 1AA Championships in 2014.
Brubaker was second on the team in total kills (206) and averaged 2.7 per set. Her season-high in kills came against rival Dana Hills on Oct. 17, when she tallied 19 in a 3-1 loss.
Healthy Tritons Boys Basketball Team Heads into Playoffs
Despite losing two of their last three Sea View League games, the San Clemente boys basketball team finished third in the standings, punching their ticket into the CIF-SS Division 1AA Championships.
The Tritons (12-14, 3-5) will travel to play Rancho Verde of Moreno Valley in the first round on Feb. 21 at 7 p.m.
Injuries have been a concern for the Tritons all season, but one spot of good news is that reigning league MVP Sam Darnold is set to return for the first-round matchup, according to the team’s website. Darnold missed the opening portion of the season due to a fractured foot and played in only eight games before breaking his hand in a game against Trabuco Hills on Jan. 17. When Darnold was on the court for the Tritons, he performed well, averaging 14.6 points and 9.6 rebounds per contest.
Rancho Verde went 19-6 overall and 10-2 in the Inland Valley League. If the Tritons advance, they will face the winner of the West Ranch and Millikan game on Feb. 25 in the second round.