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San Clemente guard Scott Herrod scored nine points in the Tritons 54-43 win over Downey on Feb. 20. Photo: KDahlgren Photography
San Clemente guard Scott Herrod scored nine points in the Tritons 54-43 win over Downey on Feb. 20. Photo: KDahlgren Photography

By Steve Breazeale 

The first-game playoff jitters were there, they just didn’t stick around for very long.

The San Clemente boys basketball team opened their CIF-SS Division 1AA playoff run Feb. 20 against Downey and came out shooting an ice cold 2-13 from the field in the first quarter.

But the Tritons quickly overcame the shooting woes in the second, ending the quarter on a 16-6 run that gave them the lead they would not let go of as they cruised to a 54-43 victory.

San Clemente will host Tustin in the second round of the postseason Feb. 23 at 7 p.m.

In the second quarter the Tritons returned to their familiar style of play, getting out in transition, moving the ball and knocking down the 3-point shot. Senior Sam Darnold and Scott Herrod hit back to back 3-pointers and Nick Crankshaw stole a Spartans inbounds pass for an easy lay-up to give the Tritons their first lead at 16-15.

“We just played with a little more energy (in the second quarter). We came out kind of flat. We were standing around on offense but once we got moving in transition, the baskets came easier for us,” Crankshaw said.

From there, the run was on. San Clemente maintained a healthy lead throughout the third quarter and once Downey narrowed it to a four-point margin in the fourth quarter, the Tritons went on a 12-4 run to take a 50-38 lead and the game.

Crankshaw proved to be a one-man wrecking crew in the second half. The senior showed off his jabbing, step-back jump shot and playmaking ability over the final 16 minutes. Crankshaw shot a perfect 5-5 from the field in the second half, ending the night with 16 points, nine assists, eight rebounds and six steals.

Darnold finished with 10 points while Herrod and Joe Mann each had nine in the victory.

Tustin and San Clemente previously squared off on Dec. 19 in the Irvine World News Tournament and the Tritons came away with a 54-50 win.

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