By Steve Breazeale
Tritons Boys Basketball Beats Stallions, Inches Closer to League Title
The San Clemente boys basketball team knew they needed to win their matchup on the road against San Juan Hills on February 5. A win would bring them one game closer to claiming a Sea View League title, a trophy no Tritons boys basketball team has claimed since 1975.
The Tritons relied on their full court pressure to get the job done and walked away with a 69-53 win over the Stallions, pulling them closer to their ultimate goal.
A decisive match against third place Trabuco Hills on February 7 is now looming on the horizon.
The Tritons (16-10, 6-1 league) started off the game against San Juan Hills (7-20, 1-6) looking sluggish by their standards. An offense that is on an historic scoring pace (averaging just under 70 points per game) managed to score only 28 first half points.
The Tritons were threatening to pull away while building a 12-6 lead early in the first, but the streaky outside shooting of the Stallions pulled the home team back to within four with just over 40 seconds left in the quarter. Four of the Stallions six made shots in the first were from beyond the arc.
Things got tighter in the second, as San Juan Hills cut the Tritons lead to 23-20, but a dagger 3-point shot from Tritons sophomore forward Sam Darnold ended a 4-1 Stallions run and San Clemente closed out the half with a 28-24 advantage.
Full-court pressure defense has been a useful tool for the Tritons all season long and they stayed away from using it in the opening half. But as the third quarter got underway, the Tritons continuously hounded the Stallions backcourt and ate up their shot clock.
“(San Juan Hills) played really well in the second quarter controlling the tempo so we knew we had to get that tempo going to our speed…that’s where we want to be,” San Clemente head coach Marc Popovich said.
The San Clemente defense forced the Stallions to turn the ball over which led to transition buckets for senior forward Jake Terkoski, who scored 12 points in the third quarter and recorded one steal. The Tritons outscored the Stallions 19-13 in the third quarter.
Twenty points separated the two teams midway through the fourth quarter as a result of a 10-0 Tritons run, which was highlighted by a no-look pass from senior Cody Bean to a cutting Anthony Pinelli that put San Clemente up 55-39.
The Tritons ended up scoring 41 points in the second half to claim their second win in a row.
One more win would make history.
“If we are going to finish things off Thursday (against Trabuco Hills) we are going to have to play a heck of a lot better,” Popovich said. “(Trabuco Hills) is playing to tie us for a league title and we’re playing to win one outright. There’s going to be a lot of emotion that night and its senior night…We’re going to be well prepared.”
Dana Hills (19-7, 6-2) is also in the mix for a league title after defeating Laguna Hills 54-36 February 5.
Tritons Wrestling Places Second at League Finals
The San Clemente boys wrestling team finished second to longtime rival and 2013 South Coast League champion Laguna Hills on February 2 as part of the South Coast League finals.
The Tritons had 12 wrestlers qualify for CIF, a list that includes: Christian Orpineda, Danny Garcia, Jacob Sandoval, Justin Kleinman, Tim Parten, John Castellini, Brian Degennaro, Rick Simpson, Mike Marshall, Ash Ryan, Austin Aceves and Tyler Maxwell.
Boys Soccer Goes Undefeated in League
A perfect in-league season for the San Clemente boys soccer team was capped off with a 1-0 win over visiting Capistrano Valley on February 5. Junior Bryce Kaminski scored the goal with an assist from junior Dylan Struthers. The Tritons (25-2-1, 8-0) will be a No. 1 seed in the CIF-SS playoffs and will host a game in the first round on February 22.
Girls Basketball Clinches League Title
With consecutive league wins over El Toro and Laguna Hills on February 2 and February 4, respectively, the San Clemente girls basketball team wrapped up the South Coast League title for 2013. The team’s most recent wins were convincing, as they held both the Chargers and Hawks to under 38 points while scoring more than 50 in each contest.
The Tritons (17-5, 7-0) final game of the regular season was against Aliso Niguel on February 6. Results were not available at press time.
Water Polo Returns to the Pool
After a few days off the San Clemente girls water polo team returned to league play with a game on the road against El Toro on February 6. Results were not available at press time.
The Tritons (11-14, 3-2) last league game will be against fourth place Trabuco Hills on February 7.
Tritons Shutout Diablos on the Road
A South Coast League title may not be in the cards for the San Clemente girls soccer team in 2013 but that didn’t stop them from playing the role of spoiler against Mission Viejo on February 4.
A strong defensive effort was the key for the Tritons, who shutout the Diablos on the road in a 1-0 victory.
Mission Viejo (9-5-2, 4-2-1 league) entered the game in a first place tie with Dana Hills (9-1-4, 4-1-1). Dana Hills defeated Tesoro 3-0 on February 4, which put the Dolphins alone at the top spot.
San Clemente (9-5-6, 2-2-3) only solidified their third place position with the win.
In the 30th minute of the opening half Tritons junior forward Nikki Faris took the ball from the sideline and streaked into open space near the Diablos box. Faris then shook her chasing defender and found herself with just the keeper to beat, which she did by shooting the ball into the near side of the net to give the Tritons the 1-0 lead.
The Diablos picked up their offensive intensity following the Tritons goal and tried to get one of their own before the halftime whistle. They were met with strong resistance in the form of the Tritons back line defense. Senior defenseman Sydney Fuertes and Kelly Jameson provided important stops that broke down the Diablo attack in the closing minutes.
Both teams postured with one another throughout the second half and as the game wound down, the Diablos were awarded a corner kick in extra time and got a good ball into the box, but it was cleared away as the final whistle sounded.
The Tritons played against first place Dana Hills on February 6. Results were not available at press time. It would be the second time in two days the Tritons would face a first-place team.