Fryer: Tesoro has it all figured out now


It was late December. Tesoro had a record of 5-8.

The Titans are 14-2 since, including three playoff wins in CIF-Southern Section Division 2AA. One of those playoff wins was a 67-62 victory over top-seeded Thousand Oaks on Friday. Tesoro plays today in the 2AA semifinals against Canyon.

What happened? Tesoro coach Steve Garrett offered a simple explanation.

“Guys just started playing well,” said Garrett, the school’s only varsity boys basketball coach since the school opened in 2001. “Everybody’s doing their roles better and more efficiently. We talk a lot about being ‘all-league’ in your role.”

Tesoro won the Sea View League with a 7-1 league record. The Titans’ league loss was to second-place Trabuco Hills.

Their last loss was to San Clemente in a nonleague game. They have won seven in a row since that one.

“We’re a young team,” Garrett said. “A lot of sophomores and juniors, and they’ve grown up quickly.”

This is Tesoro’s third trip to the semifinals. The Titans lost to Westlake of Westlake Village in their most-recent semifinals appearance, two years ago. Tesoro won its only CIF boys basketball championship in 2009.

Adrease Jackson, a 6-foot-6 sophomore, scored 61 points over two playoff wins last week. Nick Pallas, a 6-6 senior, gives the Titans a rugged presence inside. Pallas and senior Nic Vucurevic are co-captains.

Garrett calls 6-2 junior guard Devon Modster “one of the best athletes in the county” and college football coaches agree. Modster, a quarterback, has scholarship offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, Cal, Colorado State and Kansas.

The Titans will have to be at their best again in the 2AA semifinal at Canyon.

“We’ve seen everything in the playoffs,” Garrett said. “We’ve been pressed, zoned, man-to-man’d. It’s been an overall team effort so far and we’ll need that again against Canyon.”

Jump stops around Orange County basketball:

• Because of incomplete information supplied to us, the full reasons for the move of Mater Dei’s Open Division semifinals game against Etiwanda from Saturday to today were not published. The move was not solely because of an important Mater Dei fundraising event Saturday. Etiwanda’s girls basketball team also had a playoff game Saturday. As often occurs, when a school has boys and girls teams playing late-round playoff games on the same date either the boys or girls game schedule changes.

• The CIF-Southern Section on Monday released a partial schedule of basketball championship games. The one for-certain time, date and location for a boys basketball final involving a county team: Corona del Mar vs. Beverly Hills, 3A, Friday at 9 p.m. at Azusa Pacific University. Admission: $13 for adults; $7 for students with valid student identification; and $7 for children 13 and younger.

• Tickets for CIF-SS basketball championship games are available at Honda Center today and at participating schools beginning Wednesday. Call the schools to know about their ticket-sales location and hours.

• The boys basketball championship games in the Open Division and in Divisions 1AA, 1A, 2AA, 2A and 3AA will be at Honda Center on Saturday. Specifics regarding which games are at what times will be finalized when all of today’s semifinals are completed. The first of the six games at Honda Center on Saturday is at 10 a.m., with the final game scheduled to begin at 8:30 p.m. (The last game likely is the Open Division game.)

• Always a factor in determining the boys basketball finals schedule is how many schools also have girls basketball teams playing in section championship games. If a school has both a boys and girls team in the finals, then the CIF-SS office will try to space those games apart so that spectators can attend both of that school’s games.

• All seating at Honda Center is general admission. Prices for games there are $15 for adults, $10 for students with valid student identification and for children 10 and younger. Parking is $16.

• Today’s semifinal games involving O.C. teams: Open Division, Etiwanda at Mater Dei; 1AA, Los Alamitos at Great Oak of Temecula and Tustin at Village Christian of Sun Valley; 1A, Loyola of Los Angeles at Edison and Foothill at Peninsula of Rolling Hills Estates; 2AA, Tesoro at Canyon.

• Besides Corona del Mar, the other O.C. team that had advanced to a CIF-SS championship game going into Monday was Sonora, which will play Gahr of Cerritos in the 3AA final at Honda Center on Saturday (and probably at 10 a.m.).

• Orange Lutheran’s loss to Bishop Montgomery of Torrance in the Open Division semifinals Saturday is not Lutheran’s last game of the season. By winning in the first round, the Lancers were guaranteed a berth in the CIF state tournament. When the CIF Southern California Regionals pairings are released Sunday, Lutheran might be one of what could be as many as four Southern Section teams in the Regionals Open Division, although Lutheran could be in Division 4 for the state tournament.

• The Southern California Regionals begin Monday with a play-in game if needed. The first round is March 11 for Divisions 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. The Open Division first round is March 13.

• Southern California Regionals championship games are March 21 at The Pyramid at Long Beach State. State championship games are March 27 and 28 at UC Berkeley.

• Your truly’s predictions on which teams would get to the final four in their playoff divisions went fairly well. Of the 48 teams predicted to advance to the semifinals in the 12 CIF-SS playoff divisions, 36 (75 percent) did make the semis.

• Foothill had security in place Friday to keep fans from storming the court at the end of the Knights’ overtime win over Godinez. Once players from both teams finished the postgame handshake, Foothill folks let the kids go crazy. That’s the way to do it.

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