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FOSTER SNELL, CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Los Alamitos' Pepe Garcia, center, goes up for a shot against Fairfax's Babacar Thiombane, left, and Robert McRae during the Nike Extravaganza at Mater Dei on Saturday.

Santa Margarita shows why it may belong in the Open Division

STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA – Some teams don’t want to play in the Open Division.

Santa Margarita does. The Eagles just might have proved they belong in the elite group of CIF-Southern Section boys basketball playoff teams Saturday with a 60-45 win over Etiwanda in the Nike Extravaganza at Mater Dei.

Open Division teams will be selected by a committee. The teams selected will be evaluated to be the best teams in the Southern Section, private or public school, regardless of enrollment. Open Division selections, and the Open Division bracket, will be announced Friday.

Santa Margarita is among the 27 teams on the “watch list” of Open Division candidates. So is Etiwanda.

“We want to be in the Open Division,” Santa Margarita coach Jeff Reinert said. “We want that level of competition.”

Santa Margarita (17-8) played at a high level Saturday. The Eagles shot 55 percent from the field, including 7 for 13 on 3-pointers.

Kaden Rasheed, a junior, led Santa Margarita with 15 points. He made three 3-pointers. His senior brother, Noah Rasheed, scored 12 points. Sophomore forward Jordan Guest scored 10 points with a game-high seven rebounds.

The previous time Santa Margarita played in Mater Dei’s gym the Eagles shot 26 percent from the floor in a 57-48 loss in a Trinity League game on Jan. 15.

What was the difference, from that game to Saturday?

“We played more as a team,” Kaden Rasheed said. “Nobody was trying to ‘get their own.’”

The game was tied, 15-15, at the end of the first quarter. Santa Margarita outscored Etiwanda, 16-3, in the second quarter to take a 31-18 lead into halftime.

Santa Margarita plays two Trinity League games this week, the final week of the regular season. The Eagles play at Servite on Tuesday and are home against Orange Lutheran on Thursday.

Reinert said Santa Margarita, ranked No. 4 in Orange County and No. 8 in CIF-SS Division 1AA, is looking forward to what’s to come.

“We have yet to play our best basketball,” he said.

Also in the Nike Extravaganza:

Westchester 70, No. 3 Orange Lutheran 50: The Lancers (20-5) had an 11-6 lead in the first quarter before being outscored, 25-3, by the Comets (22-5), who took control in the second quarter.

Westchester is ranked No. 10 in California by CalHiSports.com. The Comets flexed their depth, getting 33 points from their bench.

Chris Williams led Lutheran with 13 points.

Lutheran senior forward Kavaughn Scott, perhaps the Lancers’ best inside player, left the game in the first quarter after injuring his right ankle. After leaving the court for treatment, Scott sat on the bench with a boot on his right foot the remainder of the game. Scott described the injury as a sprain and said he expected to miss two weeks, which would include the first week of the playoffs.

Orange Lutheran is on the Open Division watch list.

JSerra 83, Windward of Los Angeles 58: Alec Hickman scored 27 points and Sebastian Much added 24 points for the Lions (15-9).

The Lions trailed by three points at the end of the first quarter. They outscored the Wildcats by (9-14) by nine points in the second quarter, by 13 points in the third quarter and by six in the fourth.

Fairfax of Los Angeles 65, No. 2 Los Alamitos 56: Eyassu Worku led the Griffins (21-4) with 27 points in a losing effort against Fairfax (24-3), the No. 13 team in the state rankings. The loss ended Los Alamitos’ winning streak at 15 games.

Los Alamitos, which has clinched the Sunset League championship, is on the Open Division watch list and is ranked No. 9 in CIF-SS Division 1AA.

Sonora 73, Colony of Ontario 66: Austin Carter’s 25 points paced the Raiders (16-8).

Contact the writer: sfryer@ocregister.com


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