El Toro's Noah Aguilar, bottom, recovers a loose ball over Godinez' Bryan Rivera during a first round game of Division 2AA playoffs at El Toro on Wednesday.

El Toro triumphs in tight battle with Godinez


LAKE FOREST – El Toro’s boys basketball team dominated Godinez in December, but a playoff loss to the Grizzlies last winter was still on the mind of Chargers coach Todd Dixon.

Dixon wasn’t about to take the rematch lightly, and that helped his team triumph in a tight, low-scoring battle.

Dawit Wilson had 16 points to lead the Chargers past Godinez, 48-43, Wednesday in a CIF-SS Division 2AA first-round playoff game at El Toro.

El Toro (22-7) will be at Burbank on Friday. The Bulldogs (19-10) beat Garden Grove, 62-54, Wednesday.

The game’s grinding pace didn’t surprise the Chargers. It was the style of play that worked to Godinez’s advantage in their second-round meeting last year, and one the Grizzlies (16-12) were happy to revisit after suffering a 33-point defeat to El Toro in the O.C. North/South Challenge this season.

“Sometimes, it’s hard to convince teams that the first game doesn’t matter, it’s the second game,” Dixon said. “I expected a good game. I didn’t want a good game, but it was a close game.”

Dixon’s team it found itself down, 27-26, at the half. Godinez built its lead partly on the efforts of Ramon Lopez-Felix, who scored 10 of his 16 points in the first half.

The Chargers picked up the pace in the second half, forcing four turnovers in the first 2:20 of the third quarter.

Patric Schoen had back-to-back steals, and Noah Aguilar and Wilson turned them into points. El Toro did not allow a field goal in the third, but its lead was slim, 39-37, entering the fourth.

Lockdown defense kept the Chargers in front in the fourth, as Godinez managed just two field goals.

“Our focus was to pressure the ball and make sure that they were not comfortable,” said Chargers guard Bruce Haidrey, who contributed 10 points. “We just had to keep the same intensity throughout the game.”

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