San Clemente's Gage Shelmidire gets past all Aliso Niguel defenders to make a layup during Friday's South Coast League win.

San Clemente applies pressure to get what it wants


SAN CLEMENTE – Not that long ago, San Clemente’s boys basketball team had gone 35 years without a league title. All of a sudden, the Tritons are establishing a legacy in the South Coast League.

San Clemente pressured Aliso Niguel from the tip and surged to a 77-64 victory on its home floor Friday to clinch at least a share of the league championship in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history and third time in four seasons.

“We came out and played our best,” San Clemente senior Dillon Waikle said. “We knew this was a league-decider. It feels really good.”

San Clemente (18-6, 6-1) bolted to a 10-0 advantage and forced Aliso Niguel (13-12, 4-2) to take two timeouts in the early minutes of the first quarter.

“I think (the game) turned in the first 30 seconds,” Aliso Niguel coach Keith Barnett said. “I thought we played horrible. I was very disappointed with our mindset coming out. We came out soft.”

The Tritons pressured the Wolverines guards for turnovers and dominated the glass. Those two areas led to fastbreaks and transition 3-pointers, including four from beyond the arc in the first quarter.

“It’s something we talked about all day in practice yesterday and today during walkthrough,” San Clemente coach Marc Popovich said of his team’s pressure. “It was what we needed to get to 77 points tonight. We knew if we could get into the 70s we’d be all right.”

Waikle, the 6-foot-11 scorer, hit two of San Clemente’s six first-half 3’s and converted all three shots on another fouled 3-point attempt. Waikle led all scorers with 17 points.

The Tritons led by 17 at halftime and continued to push forward as Cole Fotheringham muscled in the first three San Clemente baskets of the second half. The Utah football signee added 12 points and seven rebounds, and San Clemente’s lead climbed to 22 points after three quarters.

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