Trabuco Hills' Zack Mowers, left, tries to escape from Capistrano Valley double team during a Sea View League game at Capistrano Valley on Monday.

Capo Valley's zone defense creates big problems for Trabuco Hills


MISSION VIEJO – With all five of its starters at 6-foot-2 or taller, the length of Capistrano Valley’s boys basketball team can pose problems for its opponents.

Against a Trabuco Hills team that gets most of its points from guards, the Cougars’ length in its zone defense, coupled with a cold night from the floor for the Mustangs, were factors in Capistrano Valley’s 50-33 win in a Sea View League game on Monday.

The Cougars controlled the rebounds and held visiting Trabuco Hills (14-8, 3-1) to single-digit points in each of the first three quarters.

“We’re longer than they are, but I love their guard experience,” Capistrano Valley coach Brian Mulligan said. “Our length gave them issues. Our big guys did a great job of boarding in their positions.”

Sophomore Dawson Baker led Capistrano Valley with 15 points and seven rebounds. Fellow sophomore Nic Lipovic added 11 points, and senior Jeremy Taylor scored all nine of his points in the second half.

The Cougars (15-7, 2-1) held a 20-15 halftime lead. An 8-0 run, highlighted by a pair of Lipovic 3-pointers, extended the lead to 30-17 just 1:49 into the third quarter.

“We’re hard to guard when we move the ball, and we made some cuts at some very opportune times,” Mulligan said.

Early in the fourth quarter, Capistrano Valley stretched its lead to 21 points.

By contrast, Trabuco Hills was hesitant, passing up multiple shots due to the length of Capistrano Valley’s defenders.

“In a big game, a team with senior leadership did not have seniors step up,” Mustangs coach Sean Sullens said. “They know what their role is in a big game and they didn’t bring it. Their zone is good, take nothing away from that.”

Sophomore Zack Mowers hit five 3-pointers to lead the Mustangs with 15 points, while sophomore Connor Haskell added eight points.

Mowers is the Mustangs’ second-leading scorer. Camren Panganiban (13.6 points per game), Quentin Watts (9.0) and Cyrus Sadeghian (9.1) were held to a combined one point on 0-for-10 shooting from the floor.

“We got lucky in the fact that (Panganiban) missed his first five shots early,” Mulligan said. “You start to question whether you can make those, and that seemed to be the rut they got into.”

Capistrano Valley plays at San Juan Hills, Wednesday.  Trabuco Hills is on the road at San Juan Hills, Friday. 

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