Tesoro's road to victory full of bumps, twists


RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA – After a week off between games, Tesoro girls basketball coach Jim Arneson feared his players wouldn’t have their normal energy coming out of the gate against a tough Aliso Niguel squad.

As it turned out, it wasn’t Tesoro’s start, but the Wolverines’ response that was concerning to Arneson.

Aliso Niguel wiped out a 20-point deficit late in the third quarter, but Tesoro sophomore Porsche Nwokeuku scored six consecutive points to give the Titans an edge. Tesoro held on to win, 53-47 at home Tuesday night.

“It takes a lot of resolve to give up a 20-point lead and bounce back,” Arneson said. “The energy was there, they were motivated, it seemed like we just got a little lackadaisical.”

Tesoro scored the first 20 points of the game, using aggressive defense to force eight turnovers in the first quarter.

Suhansi Perera hit a 3-pointer and a pair of layups to pace Tesoro with eight early points. The Titans (13-9, 4-1) led, 20-1, at the end of the first quarter.

Aliso Niguel (16-6, 5-1) fought back with a 14-0 run of its own by getting the ball to forward Charlotte Vurgun in the post. The junior battled her way inside for 10 points, while Emma Reed and Suzette Quinlan each hit 3-pointers to reduce the deficit to four by halftime.

Vurgun tied the game with a putback basket with 3:30 remaining in the third quarter, prompting a timeout by Arneson.

Nwokeuku became an aggressor, driving in for three consecutive baskets to close the third quarter.

“I told her to be aggressive, sometimes she can get passive,” Arneson said. “You can’t guard her, she’s quick and we needed her to drive it.”

The Wolverines again reduced the deficit to three midway through the fourth quarter on another Reed 3-pointer, but committed crucial turnovers down the stretch and were forced to foul.

Gianni McGowan, who led the Titans with 14 points, hit all six of her free throws late to hand Aliso Niguel its first loss in South Coast League play.

Nwokeuku finished with 12 points and Perera added 10 for Tesoro. Vurgun scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Reed finished with 11 points and sophomore guard Madelyn Brauer added 10 for the Wolverines.

Both teams sit with one loss in the standings. Aliso Niguel has two games remaining, while the Titans have three.

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