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By Zach Cavanagh
Boys Basketball Regroups Ahead of League Opener
In the record books, the San Clemente boys basketball team looks to be in the right form with four straight wins as it looked toward its scheduled South Coast League opener at Trabuco Hills on Wednesday, Jan. 5.
However, when inspecting the details, the Tritons are in the midst of a recharge.
As San Clemente finished up its early-season tournament schedule at the Tustin Classic, the Tritons were playing strong with wins over Long Beach Millikan, 79-47, and Calvary Chapel, 59-55, to advance to the tournament’s semifinals.
Charlie Spaeth led all scorers against Millikan with 19 points, and Alec Grace scored 18 points. Asher Gardiner scored 12 points, and Tanner Mehrens scored 10 points.
Grace led in scoring against Calvary Chapel with 18 points, and Mehrens was right behind with 17 points. Spaeth scored 10 points.
Against Calvary Chapel, though, San Clemente was already down five players due to various illnesses and injuries—all non-COVID at time—but ahead of its semifinal game on Wednesday, Dec. 29, the Tritons pulled out of the tournament due to COVID-19 protocols.
So, despite its strong early-season play, 10-4 record and four consecutive wins after a three-game losing streak, San Clemente looked to bounce back against Trabuco Hills on Wednesday. Results were not available at press time. Trabuco Hills had also pulled out of the Tustin Classic before it began last week due to its own COVID-19 protocols.
San Clemente continues in league play at Mission Viejo on Friday, Jan. 7, and at Tesoro on Wednesday, Jan. 12.
Surprisingly, the Tritons have yet to play a home game this season. San Clemente is scheduled to finally take the floor in its own gym on Jan. 14 in a nonleague game against University and in a league game against Capistrano Valley on Jan. 19.
Girls Soccer Shuts Out Aliso Niguel in League Opener
After an unbeaten run to open its season, the San Clemente girls soccer team took its first blemishes in the Excalibur Tournament—a loss in penalty kicks after a 1-1 tie against Capistrano Valley on Dec. 28 and a 1-0 loss to Foothill later the same day.
As the page turns onto a new year, the Tritons got back to their form and opened league play on the right foot against a longtime rival.
Boosted by goals from juniors Malia McMahon and Lizzie Martin and a clean sheet by senior goalkeeper Emily Sanchez (three saves), San Clemente defeated Aliso Niguel, 2-0, in both teams’ South Coast League opener on Tuesday, Jan. 4.
It was the Tritons’ fourth shutout of the season, as their defense has been particularly strong. San Clemente (5-2-1, 1-0) has allowed only four goals in eight games. The Tritons are also unbeaten at home with a 4-0 record.
Aliso Niguel may be San Clemente’s most frequent league rival in girls soccer, but now the Tritons’ attention turns just up the road to defending league champion San Juan Hills.
The Stallions won the South Coast League for the first time last season and host San Clemente on Thursday, Jan. 6. The Tritons are next at home on Tuesday, Jan. 11, against Tesoro.
Boys Soccer Set to Open League
Like their girls counterparts, the San Clemente boys soccer team had an unbeaten nonleague season that was spoiled at the last minute.
At the SoCal Nike Classic in Oceanside, the Tritons had come up big with a 4-0 win over Long Beach Wilson on Dec. 28 and a 3-0 win over San Dieguito Academy on Dec. 29. But then all good things came to an end, and San Clemente dropped a 2-1 game to Torrey Pines for its first and only loss of the season.
San Clemente now circles back to league play, and the Tritons had plenty of reasons to regain focus on their South Coast League opener.
Capistrano Valley usurped San Clemente as South Coast League champion last season, and the Tritons hosted the Cougars on Wednesday, Jan. 5. Results were not available at press time.
San Clemente continues with league play at home against Mission Viejo on Wednesday, Jan. 12, and hosts San Juan Hills on Jan. 14.
Girls Wrestling Wins Upland Blackwatch Tournament
The San Clemente girls wrestling team posted an all-around impressive performance in the Upland Blackwatch Tournament on Dec. 28-29.
The Tritons were dominant with 13 of their 21 wrestlers earning medals, including three individual champions: Eden Hernandez (116 pounds), Dylan Tsouo (170 pounds) and Lily Mercado (235 pounds). San Clemente won the tournament title with 199 points over Roosevelt at 150 points.
Hernandez won her first three matches by fall in 21 seconds, 1:35 and 1:05 and won her individual title win an 8-2 decision. Tsouo won all three of her matches by fall in 23 seconds, 1:03 and a grueling 3:35 to win her title. Mercado won her first two matches by fall in 1:37 and 18 seconds and then took the title with an injury win in 43 seconds.
San Clemente girls water polo dominated its league opener with a 20-8 win over El Toro on Tuesday, Jan. 4. The Tritons (3-3, 1-0) next play at Tesoro on Thursday, Jan. 6, and host rival Dana Hills on Jan. 13.
San Clemente girls basketball dropped its league opener to San Juan Hills, 52-38, on Tuesday, Jan. 4. The Tritons (6-9, 0-1) next are at Aliso Niguel on Thursday, Jan. 6, and host Dana Hills on Jan. 13.
San Clemente graduate Cole Fotheringham caught two passes for 19 yards for Utah in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, but the Utes were unable to hold off Ohio State’s second-half comeback in a 48-45 loss. Fotheringham announced in December he would declare for the NFL Draft following the Rose Bowl.
Zach Cavanagh is the sports editor for Picket Fence Media. Zach is multiple California Journalism Award winner and has covered sports in Orange County since 2013. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachCav and follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SouthOCSports. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.