San Clemente's Gage Shelmidine dribbles past Fountain Valley's Vinh Ngo and Jake Bitzer during a Division 1AA playoff game Wednesday.

San Clemente builds up big lead, coasts to victory


SAN CLEMENTE – San Clemente steadily built a large lead through three quarters before withstanding a Fountain Valley barrage of 3-pointers to beat the Barons, 61-51, Wednesday in a CIF-SS Division 1AA first-round boys basketball playoff game at San Clemente High.

San Clemente (21-6) will play at Downey (19-9) in the second round Friday. The Tritons defeated Downey in the 1AA first round last season.

San Clemente had a 20-point lead over Fountain Valley in the third quarter. The Barons’ Mike Lightbody made three 3-pointers in a row to lead a comeback effort.

Fountain Valley cut the Tritons’ lead to seven points twice in the fourth quarter but got no closer than that.

Tritons coach Marc Popovich was aware that Fountain Valley’s 3-point shooting skills would make it dangerous.

“That was our big concern,” Popovich said. “Lightbody got hot to make it close, too close for comfort, but we were able to hold on.”

Lightbody finished with 29 points and eight 3s.

Cole Fotheringham led San Clemente with 15 points, 13 rebounds and four assists. Fotheringham, a 6-foot-5, 235-pound senior, was an All-Orange County tight end for Tritons football this past fall and signed with Utah.

James Paterson added 14 points and 12 rebounds for San Clemente. Fotheringham and Paterson made sure there were few offensive rebounds for Fountain Valley.

San Clemente made 24 of its 43 shots, for 56 percent. Fountain Valley made 18 of 51 shots, for 35 percent.

The Tritons, the South Coast League champion, led from the start, taking a quick 5-0 lead and carrying a 20-7 advantage into the second quarter. Fountain Valley made seven turnovers in the first quarter as the Tritons used a 2-2-1 trap and settled into a 2-3 zone.

San Clemente had a 34-18 lead at halftime and brought a 49-33 lead into the fourth quarter.

Fountain Valley did not qualify for the playoffs last season. This season they did, with a decidedly young team. The Barons had no seniors on the roster and started three juniors and two sophomores against the Tritons.

San Clemente takes a four-game winning streak into the second round. The Tritons’ most-recent loss was to El Toro on Feb. 3.

Downey, which finished fourth in the six-team San Gabriel Valley League, beat Montclair, 73-39, Wednesday.

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