El Toro's Sean Harman drives to the basket past Loyola's Khalil Bedart-ghani in the second round of the CIF State Regional Basketball Playoffs Saturday.

El Toro loses shooting touch against Loyola


LAKE FOREST – El Toro boys basketball coach Todd Dixon often said this season that his team lived and died by the 3-point shot.

The living was easy in the first half of El Toro's game against Loyola of Los Angeles on Saturday. The Chargers died hard in the second half.

El Toro lost to Loyola, 81-70, in a CIF Southern California Regionals Division 1 second-round game at El Toro High.

It is easy to break down what happened. The Chargers made 11 of 17 3-point shots in the first half. They were 3 for 12 on 3-pointers in the second half.

El Toro's biggest lead was 14 points early in the third quarter. Then Loyola's quick guards started creating turnovers and fast breaks.

Loyola's Parker Jackson-Cartwright made a 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter to give the Cubs their first lead since early in the first quarter, and Loyola quickly extended that small lead to an insurmountable one in the fourth quarter.

"We were really good in the first half," Dixon said. "When we share the ball like that and knock down 3s, we're hard to guard. Loyola gave us a lot of those looks, which was nice, and then in the second half they stepped up their defense and it bothered us."

The Chargers (28-7) tied a school record for victories, which was set in 2004-05. They were South Coast League co-champions, with Mission Viejo, advanced to a CIF-Southern Section championship game, and had a state tournament second-round home game for the first time in school history.

"I'm really proud of our guys," Dixon said. "Our seniors were battling all year long. Our juniors were fantastic, and what a great experience this season was for them going into next year."

Junior forward Jake Lunardi led El Toro with 16 points including four 3-pointers. Tanner Aguera, a junior, and senior Ryan Roberts scored 11 points apiece, and juniors George Buaku and Sean Harman scored 10 each. Six Chargers made 3-pointers.

El Toro made 19 of 29 shots in the first half. The Chargers were 7 for 22 in the second half.

Loyola (24-7), which was eliminated in the quarterfinals of CIF-SS Division 1AA, will play at home Tuesday in the Regional Division 1 semifinals against Crenshaw of Los Angeles.

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