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Santa Margarita pulls upset, reaches 3AA final
RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA – It didn't win a game in the tough Trinity League, but Santa Margarita's boys basketball team is headed to the CIF-SS Division 3AA final.
The Eagles (16-14) defeated top-seeded Leuzinger, 65-59, Friday night at Santa Margarita High in a game the home team dominated with defense.
Coach Jeff Reinert said his team knew it had to slow down the Olympians' top scorer Eric Childress.
"We had them scouted pretty well. Devonte (Klines) did an excellent job of really taking Childress' 3-pointer away, and the help-side defense was there all game," said Reinert.
The Eagles led for the majority of the game, but the Olympians (22-7) made a run in the third quarter.
Shortly after Eagles center Joe Furstinger was injured when he fell and landed hard on his head, the Olympians took a two-point lead. When Furstinger returned to the game, he scored on an and-one to put the Eagles back in the lead.
"He (Furstinger ) was down for a minute there, but thankfully he's alright," said Reinert of his center. "Joe really needs to stop leaving his feet."
In the fourth the Olympians extended their pressure defense full court, but the Eagles didn't waste any time attacking. Klines found Ryan Merritt and Tyler Strauss in transition for layups.
Childress tried to keep his team in the game with two 3-pointers, but the Eagles seemed to always have an answer, either at the free-throw line or with easy baskets.
Furstinger, who dominated the paint for most of the game with solid and quick post moves, even stepped out and hit a long two-point shot. He finished with 22 points.
Reinert knows the Trinity League had his team prepared for CIF.
"We stayed really tough all throughout league play," he said. "Whoever we play in the finals, it will truly be an honor.
"I'm so proud of our kids and the way they battled all season."