San Clemente's Gage Shelmidine gets past El Toro's Noah Aguilar during the first half of Friday's contest.

San Clemente wins on the road again


LAKE FOREST – It started with 6-foot-5, 230-pound power forward Cole Fotheringham trying his hand at the point, finishing a three-on-two fast break with a sweet no-look pass to a cutting Gage Shelmidine for the easy lay-in.

Seconds later, Shelmidine, San Clemente’s pass-first floor general, spotted up for a rare 3-ball that rattled home, and the offense continued to roll with a pair of easy buckets the Tritons senior point guard set up with his attack-and-kick style of play.

San Clemente used its 11-0 run early in the fourth quarter to break open a tight one-point affair, turning it into a 70-57 road victory over El Toro in a critical South Coast League matchup Friday at El Toro High.

With five players finishing in double figures, the Tritons (14-5, 3-0) remained unbeaten in league play, with each of those three triumphs coming on the road.

“It’s a great win for us, our guys really stepped up,” San Clemente coach Marc Popovich said. “We got off to that slow start in the first quarter, we weathered the storm and were really good after that. Our defense was spectacular in the second half.”

Trailing, 32-29, at the start of the third, San Clemente scored on seven of its first 10 possessions of the half and shot over 64 percent from the field in the quarter.

“Offensively, Gage played about as perfect a half as you could want from a point guard,” Popovich added. “He was excellent. He kept finding guys for wide-open looks and that made our offense real easy.”

San Clemente’s 49-43 lead was cut to a one-point margin when El Toro junior guard Dawit Wilson opened the fourth with five quick points.

The Chargers (14-6, 1-1) went cold the final six minutes of the game, shooting just 3 for 14 from the field and going 2 for 11 from beyond the arc.

“Our defense definitely picked up,” Shelmidine said. “And we shared the ball a lot better down the stretch.”

Dillon Waikle (17), James Paterson (14), Jake Cameron (13), Fotheringham (14) and Shelmidine (11) all scored during a fourth quarter that saw the Tritons go 10 for 12 from the free-throw line.

Wilson led all El Toro scorers with 14 points, eight coming in the fourth.

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