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, MICHAEL FERNANDEZ, CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Mission Viejo's Nathan Hewitt, right, hits the winning 3-point shot at the buzzer against Godinez in the second round of the CIF-SS Division 3AA playoffs Friday in Mission Viejo. The Diablos won, 63-60.

Fryer on basketball: Mission Viejo giving playoffs its best shot

STAFF WRITER

Nathan Hewitt made the 3-point shot that gave Mission Viejo a 63-60 playoff win over Godinez on Friday night.

Hewitt probably doesn’t get that opportunity without senior teammate Arthur Weimholt.

“On that final play,” Mission Viejo coach Chris Zeller said, “Arthur drew three defenders to him so he could get the ball to Nathan.”

Weimholt scored 15 points against Godinez in the CIF-Southern Section Division 3AA second round. He scored a season-high 30 in the Diablos’ first-round win over Bishop Amat of La Puente.

“Arthur’s had an amazing run over these past couple of weeks,” Zeller said.

Mission Viejo might need Weimholt’s run to continue in the 3AA quarterfinals in which the Diablos play at North Torrance on Tuesday night. North Torrance beat top-seeded Saddleback Valley Christian on Friday.

“That team is extremely talented,” Zeller said of North Torrance. “They’ll press and trap all over the place.”

And Hewitt, a freshman, will be ready to take another clutch shot if required.

“Nathan took some extra shots after practice today,” Zeller said Monday. “He’s dialed in right now.”

Jump stops around Orange County boys basketball:

• Saddleback Valley Christian senior guard Trey Smith, averaging 27 points a game, did not play in the Warriors’ loss to North Torrance. He has been beset by knee issues in recent weeks.

• • Los Alamitos defeated Gahr of Cerritos on Friday in an odd way. Gahr was called for goaltending on Hayden Smith’s shot in the final seconds. Los Alamitos won that Division 1AA second-round game by those two points, 63-61.

• Open Division championship-bracket games beyond the first round must be played at gyms with a minimum capacity of 2,000. If Esperanza had defeated Santa Margarita in an Open Division first-round game last week, the Aztecs would have been the home team against Bishop Montgomery in Tuesday’s quarterfinals but could not have played that game at Esperanza because the gym there is not large enough. The home gyms of Mater Dei and Santa Margarita are large enough for them to play host to Open Division quarterfinals games Tuesday.

• Open Division semifinals will be played as a doubleheader at Galen Center, at USC, on Friday. The first game starts at 7 p.m. General admission tickets are available at galentix.com at $15 each.

• Maybe it’s the new way divisions are put together. Perhaps it’s because teams below .500 no longer can get into the playoffs as at-large teams. Whatever the cause, there have been fewer one-sided playoffs games this season compared to last season – a decrease of 19 percent of playoff games with a margin of 25 or more points from last season to this season.

• The CIF-SS championship games March 3 and 4 will be played at three venues: Godinez High, Azusa Pacific University and Honda Center. The CIF-SS has indicated that this could be the final season for basketball finals at Honda Center as the CIF-SS office and Honda Center have not agreed on terms of a future contract.

• Six finals will be played at Honda Center on March 4. Four of them will be played at a daytime session and two in an evening session. The Open Division is a sure thing for the evening session.

• The Open Division is like a regular-season tournament in that it has a consolation bracket. Esperanza and JSerra, Open Division first-round losers Friday, play Open Division consolation games Tuesday – Esperanza is at Oak Park, JSerra is home against Alemany of Mission Hills.

• Esperanza’s 22-game win streak ended with the loss to Santa Margarita. Mater Dei’s 18-game win streak now is the longest in O.C. boys basketball.

• Only one O.C. team that made the playoffs as an at-large team won a playoff game – Tesoro, which beat Bonita of La Verne in the 1A first round before losing to M.L. King of Riverside in the second round.

• O.C. league champions that have been eliminated: Edison (Sunset League), Ocean View (Golden West), Saddleback Valley Christian (San Joaquin), Savanna (Orange) and Tustin (Empire).

• When the CIF-SS finals are complete, the CIF Southern California Regional begins. The regional winners advance to the CIF State championships. Teams and brackets for the six regional divisions, which include an Open Division, will be announced March 5.

• Every team in the CIF-SS Open Division is guaranteed a berth in the Southern California Regional.

• CIF Southern California Regional finals are March 16 at Walter Pyramid at Long Beach State for the Open Division and for Division 1. Other regional finals are at the home-team schools. Southern California Regional champions advance to the CIF State finals to play Northern California Regional winners at the new Golden 1 Arena in Sacramento, March 24 and 25.

Contact the writer: sfryer@scng.com


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