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Orange Lutheran stays in Trinity hunt
SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO – Wednesday night's boys basketball game between Orange Lutheran and JSerra was no ordinary Trinity League game.
In addition to being a battle between two of the top-ranked teams in the county, the winner would stay in contention — although as a longshot — for the league title.
That distinction now belongs to the third-ranked Lancers, who defeated No. 2 JSerra, 77-71, behind 34 points from senior guard Payton Banks at JSerra.
With both teams sitting at 2-2 in league play and trying to catch first-place Mater Dei (5-0 in league), Lancers coach Chris Nordstrom said the key for his team was to get to three victories in the first half of league.
"We had to play three road games in the first half, and we really talked about trying to get three (victories) in this league," he said.
"Now we turn it around and get a few more games at home, but we have to battle."
The Lions (11-5, 2-3) gave Orange Lutheran (16-3, 3-2) all it could handle for the first 29 minutes.
JSerra trailed, 59-57, with three minutes to play thanks in large part to 31 points and 20 rebounds from Jamal Aytes.
The JSerra rally came to a halt over the next 1:30 as the Lancers went on a 7-2 run in that span, extending their lead to 66-59. The Lancers' run was capped by a 3-pointer from Antwon Johnson as the shot clock expired.
The Lions tried to extend the game by fouling the Lions, but the Penn State-bound Banks hit 9 of 10 free throws down the stretch to close out the victory.
Johnson finished with 13 points, and sophomore Kendall Lauderdale added 10.
Dylan Osetkowski scored 14 points off the bench for JSerra, and Johnnie Vassar added 11.