Western's Justin Bryan leaps for the basket as Yorba Linda's Isaac Douglass reaches in to block during an Empire League boys basketball game at Yorba Linda High.

Western's shooters too much for Yorba Linda


Western’s quest for the Empire League championship got off to a sharp-shooting start Tuesday with a 64-54 victory over Yorba Linda.

The visiting Pioneers (12-3, 1-0) made 23 of their 43 shots (53 percent) and made 13 of their 14 free throws.

Yorba Linda (10-7, 0-1) had the height advantage, with 6-foot-6 senior Brad Johnson and 6-4 sophomore Isaac Douglass in the Mustangs’ starting lineup. Western countered with 6-5 Justin Bryan and 6-3 Ausjai Fusick.

“Our game plan was to keep them off of the boards,” Fusick said. “We knew they have some guys who can shoot, too, so we had to get out on their shooters and box out inside, and do that without getting into foul trouble.”

Johnson scored 15 points and had 10 rebounds, and Douglass scored 16 with nine rebounds. But Douglass took 17 shots to get to 16 points. He and Johnson found many of their offensive-rebound shots contested by a converging group of Pioneers.

Fusick scored 18 points, making 8 of 12 shots. Bryan scored 17 on 7-for-12 shooting.

Western’s Jason Walker added 13 points, including an offensive-rebound basket that looked like something from an NBA game. Walker with his right hand grabbed the ball well above the rim and threw it down through the hoop like Kobe Bryant.

The Pioneers took a nine-point lead into the fourth quarter. Yorba Linda got within three points midway through the quarter. Western went on a 15-6 run and had a 12-point lead with 35 seconds to go.

Also in the Empire League:

Tustin 39, Valencia 35: Rob Nelsen scored 15 points with seven rebounds for the host Tillers (11-4, 1-0).

In nonleague games:

Newport Harbor 88, University 65: Garrett Davis scored 20 points with 13 rebounds for the visiting Sailors (9-7).

Katella 52, Estancia 50 (OT): Ismael Galvez scored 12 points as the visiting Knights (9-5) edged the Eagles (5-11). Katella trailed at halftime, 31-19, but rallied in the second half to force overtime.

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