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Los Alamitos rallies, wins thriller with Santa Margarita
LOS ALAMITOS – Los Alamitos rallied from a 15-point, third-quarter deficit to defeat Santa Margarita, 64-59, Saturday in a CIF Southern California Regionals Division II quarterfinals playoff game.
The Griffins (25-6) will play host to Long Beach Poly (21-9) in the semifinals Tuesday.
Santa Margarita (17-12) pushed its lead to 48-33 in the third quarter on a 3-pointer by Colin Ferrier. Los Alamitos then outscored the Eagles, 12-2, in the final four minutes of the quarter.
In the quarter’s final seconds, Los Alamitos senior point guard Eyassu Worku drove the lane, drew three Eagles defenders toward him and flicked a pass to teammate Pepe Garcia, who calmly made a baseline 3-pointer that sliced Santa Margarita’s lead to 50-45 going into the fourth quarter.
Garcia, a senior guard, was calm because he was unaware.
“I honestly didn’t know we were down by 15 points,” Garcia said. “I try to never look at the score.”
Los Alamitos junior guard Eugene Mitter made back-to-back 3s early in the fourth quarter, the second of which gave the Griffins their first lead of the game, 53-52.
Garcia made a layup to tie it again. Worku followed with a steal and resulting layup to give the Griffins a 58-56 advantage. Los Alamitos senior Connor Laines later snagged a loose ball in the key for a reverse layup, his only points, to make it 60-56. With 28 seconds left, Garcia made two free throws for a 62-56 lead.
Noah Rasheed made a 26-foot 3-pointer with 14 seconds left to make it 62-59. Santa Margarita pressed to try to regain possession, but the Griffins beat that as senior guard Cary Makiyama inbounded the ball to Worku, barely inbounds in the backcourt in front of the Santa Margarita bench, and Worku passed to Garcia in the frontcourt, and Garcia passed to sophomore Jacob Eyman for a dunk that iced the game and started a celebration.
Worku finished with 20 points and five assists. Garcia scored 16. Mitter scored nine points on three second-half 3-pointers.
Ferrier led Santa Margarita with 20 points, including three 3-pointers. The Rasheed brothers scored 11 points apiece.
Santa Margarita had a 37-27 lead at halftime. Los Alamitos coach Eddie Courtemarche felt his team was playing well enough.
“We just didn’t hit many shots,” Courtemarche said. “It looked for a while there like it was going to be the same in the second half but then we just caught fire.”
In last year’s CIF-SS Division 1AA playoffs, Los Alamitos beat Santa Margarita, 69-65, in the quarterfinals.
Also in Division II:
Orange Lutheran 71, Washington Prep of Los Angeles 58: KaVaughn Scott scored 18 points and Joseph Riley added 13 points with three 3-pointers for the visiting Lancers (23-8). Lutheran is home against J.W. North of Riverside (28-4) in the semifinals Tuesday.
In Division V:
Saddleback Valley Christian 68, Flintridge Prep of La Canada 52: The Warriors (21-12) advanced to the semifinals in which they will play at Rancho Christian of Temecula (17-11) on Tuesday.
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