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Fryer on basketball: Tritons leave their mark

OCVARSITY.COM

A look at Orange County boys basketball:

•San Clemente coach Marc Popovich played at San Clemente and so did a couple of his assistant coaches, making it a special moment for them Thursday when the Tritons beat Trabuco Hills to win the Sea View League championship, the school's first in the sport since 1975. "We talked about that with the players," Popovich said. "'We didn't do it when we were players, so this is something you guys can do to make your mark on this program.'"

•Senior leadership was crucial to San Clemente's league championship, with seniors Jimmy Bankson (13 points per game), Cody Bean (13 ppg) and Jake Teroski (11 ppg) contributing so much. Sophomore Sam Darnold was a fine addition, averaging 15 points a game in league. "Sam was the guy that helped us get over the hump," Popovich said.

•San Clemente plays host to Capistrano Valley in a CIF-Southern Section Division 1A first-round playoff game Friday. "Brian and I have known each other since we were 5 years old," said Popovich, referring to Capo Valley coach Brian Mulligan. "It's going to be a good crowd and great fun."

•Santiago's championship in the Garden Grove League is the school's first boys basketball league title since 1976.

•Mamadou Ndiaye is the county's regular-season scoring champion. The 7-foot-5 senior at Brethren Christian averaged 27 points a game. Evan Zeller of Mission Viejo finished second, at 21.4 points a game, and University's Chris DaSilva was next at 21.3.

•Ndiaye has a foot bone bruise, so he did not play in Brethren's regular-season finale against Sage Hill. Brethren coach Jon Bahnsen said by email that Ndiaye might not play Wednesday in the Warriors' 5AA first-round home game against Public Safety Academy of San Bernardino.

•Canyon senior JoJo Ballestero again was the regular-season county leader in 3-point shots made, with 89. His varsity career total of 309 is third most in county history, behind 409 by Brendan Holmes (Marina, 2006-10) and 370 by Taylor King (Mater Dei, 2004-07).

•El Toro, top-seeded in Division 1A, beat Cabrillo of Long Beach in a first-round home game in last year’s 1A playoffs. The Chargers play a first-round home game against Cabrillo on Friday.

•The playoffs begin with first-round games in divisions 3AAA, 3AA, 3A, 4AA, 4A, 5AA, 5A and 6 on Wednesday. First-round games in 1AA, 1A, 2AA and 2A are Friday. Divisions 3AAA, 3AA, 3A, 4AA, 4A, 5AA, 5A and 6 play second-round games Friday. The playoffs continue Feb. 19, 22 and 26, with championship games Feb. 27-March 2.

•Fifteen of the 32 teams in the Division 3A playoffs qualified as at-large teams, which are teams that did not finish high enough in their league standings to receive guaranteed playoff berths. Fourteen of the 32 teams in 3AA are at-large teams.

•Foothill might have the most challenging draw of a county playoff team. The Knights, 21-5 and a No. 2 team from the Century League, play at Southwestern League champion Great Oak of Temecula in the 1AA first round Friday. If Foothill wins, it might play state No. 4 Etiwanda in the second round next Tuesday, possibly in an Etiwanda home game.

•Newport Harbor goes into the playoffs with a three-game winning streak. The Sailors concluded the regular season with Sunset League victories over Huntington Beach, Marina and Los Alamitos.

•Cypress also is a hot team going into the playoffs. The Centurions have won six of their past seven, with the loss a close one, to Empire League champion Tustin by six points.

•Canyon also closed strong, with victories over county top-10 teams Villa Park and Foothill last week.

•Mater Dei, as usual, finished No. 1 in the final county rankings. The last time this did not happen was in the 1988-89 season, when Saddleback was No. 1 in the final county media poll.

•Mater Dei star junior Stanley Johnson did not score in the Monarchs’ regular-season ending home victory over Servite. Monarchs coach Gary McKnight said Johnson played only a quarter-and-a-half on the team’s “senior night” in which Johnson took only one shot.

•Sonora had a great shooting week. The Raiders shot 55 percent from the floor in their Freeway League victory over Troy, and 50 percent when they beat Sunny Hills.

•When Costa Mesa nearly upset Laguna Beach in a one-point loss on Jan. 23, Costa Mesa made 11 3-pointers. When they lost to Laguna Beach by 29 last week, the Mustangs made only two 3-pointers.

•Ocean View led Loara, 30-29, at halftime Friday. Ocean View scored 29 points in the third quarter, in which the Seahawks were 5-for-5 on 3-point shots, to take a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter.

Contact the writer: sfryer@ocregister.com


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