JSerra happy with its new place in Trinity League


ORANGE - Finishing in the top three in the Trinity League is quite an accomplishment, and it's one that JSerra's boys basketball team is happy to celebrate.

The fifth-ranked Lions defeated third-ranked Orange Lutheran, 65-54, on Thursday night at Orange Lutheran to capture third place in league.

“This is highest finish we've ever had,” Lions coach Joedy Gardner said. “Last year, we tied them (Orange Lutheran) and we had a playoff and they beat us and that moved us down to fourth.

“We're excited that we're in the top three (in league). Our guys are working really hard and I think they deserved it. They were prepared.”

The top three teams in the league are guaranteed a berth in the upcoming CIF-SS basketball playoffs. Orange Lutheran (17-9, 4-6) will likely receive an at-large berth to the Division 1AA playoffs.

The Lions (15-8, 5-5) are ranked third in the ultra-competitive 4AA poll. The pairings for the playoffs will be released Sunday.

Payton Banks led Orange Lutheran with 13 points. Antwon Johnson and Brian Beard finished with 11 and nine, respectively.

The Lions led for the majority of the game and held a 39-31 lead at halftime.

“We wanted to get the ball inside,” Gardner said. “We felt that we had the size differential and our bigs have gotten better throughout the season and I feel more comfortable.”

One the “bigs” that Gardner was talking about was junior forward Dylan Osetkowski. Osetkowski scored 14 points for the Lions.

Leading the way, however, was junior guard Johnnie Vassar, who finished with 22 points.

“He's one of the quickest guards, probably in the country,” Gardner said of Vassar. “Once he learns how to speed up and slow down in that combination, he's going to be really dangerous.”

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