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ROD VEAL, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
San Clemente's Frankie Pinto (2) breaks up a pass by Laguna Hills' Cheyenne Berbey at San Clemente Thursday.

San Clemente gets its revenge

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

SAN CLEMENTE – There haven't been many losses this season for the San Clemente girls' basketball team to avenge, but an earlier defeat to Laguna Hills certainly stuck in the Tritons' minds.

"We totally should have had that, for sure," San Clemente forward Alexa Johnson said of her team's seven-point loss to the Hawks in the third-place game of the Larry Doyle OC Championships on Dec. 29.

The Tritons, ranked eighth in Orange County, exacted their revenge against Laguna Hills, 60-44, in a battle of the last two unbeaten teams in the South Coast League at San Clemente on Thursday night. With the victory, San Clemente vaulted into sole possession of first place in league at the midway point of the campaign.

"When our whole team's on the same page, we end up winning," said Johnson, who finished with 13 points and 17 rebounds. "We're planning on winning all eight (league) games."

Point guard Frankie Pinto finished with 14 points, 10 assists and five steals to lead the Tritons.

San Clemente (14-4, 4-0 in league) had just a five-point lead at halftime, 26-21. But San Clemente started the second half with a 14-2 run and blew the game open in the third period with a stifling defensive effort that held the Hawks without a field goal for the first 6:52 of the quarter.

Laguna Hills (16-5, 3-1) made just 1 of 13 attempts from the field in the third quarter and trailed, 48-28, going into the fourth. It was a woeful shooting night overall for the Hawks, who made just 1 of 18 three-point attempts in the game. Cheyenne Berbey led the way for the Hawks with 12 points.

"The third quarter killed us," Laguna Hills Coach Jim Martin said. "Too many turnovers and that was the turning point in the game."

- GABE RIZK

JSerra 51, Orange Lutheran 46: After the first round of Trinity League play No. 5 JSerra might not be in first place, but it is right where it needs to be.

The Lions (16-4, 3-1) are only a game behind Mater Dei after defeating No. 3 Orange Lutheran in Orange.

Down the stretch the Lions got the defensive stops they needed, holding the Lancers (16-3, 2-2) to five points in the fourth quarter after trailing 41-40 at the end of the third. Coach Mary Rossignol was happy with the way her team stepped up.

"Going into Orange Lutheran and winning is always tough, they are always a great program. We made some defensive adjustments at halftime and really locked down in the fourth. The biggest thing for us was staying mentally tough the entire game," Rossignol said.

The adjustments included getting out of a zone that allowed five Lancer 3-pointers in the first half, and many second-chance opportunities off long rebounds.

The Lions had two big plays to end the first and second quarters. The first was when Coco Miller was fouled on a 3-pointer with 0.3 seconds left. Miller went to the line and nailed all three free throws. The second gave the Lions a 29-28 halftime lead as reserve Corinne Bogle hit a corner three.

In the fourth, center Courtney Vaccher stepped outside of the paint for a rare 3-pointer that gave the Lions the lead for good. Vaccher looked confident in nailing the three with 2:48 left in the game.

Rossignol knew playing a tough schedule would get her team ready for league.

"We have played such a tough schedule all season long. It's a battle every single night in the Trinity League," she said.

Miller scored a game-high 16 points, most of which came on nice dribble-drive pull-ups just outside the paint. Vaccher had 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Sydney Jacobs scored 12 points in the loss for the Lancers, who are now in third place in the competitive Trinity League.

- ELLIOT COOK


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