Defense propels Loara past Westminster


WESTMINSTER – Loara coach Ed Prange knew the challenge his team would face before it took the floor.

Westminster's Myron Aiava had produced two games of 32-plus points in the Lions' three previous Golden West League contests.

Prange wanted his players to deny the versatile 6-foot-7 center the ball and force someone else to beat them.

Loara held Aiava to 19 points Friday night, and the Saxons hit their free throws late to defeat the Lions, 55-41, in a Golden West League boys basketball game at Westminster.

SLIDESHOW: OCVarsity Hot Shots: Friday's basketball games

With the victory, Loara (16-5, 4-0) remained tied with Ocean View for the top spot in the Golden West League. The two teams will battle for sole possession of first place when they face each other for the first time Wednesday.

Loara, which has won nine consecutive games, was led by Isaiah Merrill (25 points, 10 rebounds).

"(Merrill) came up big in a big game," Prange said of his junior forward. "He's one of the unsung players of Orange County."

Westminster (8-11, 2-2) fed off its defense early in the fourth quarter. Paul Pena converted a 3-point play when he was fouled on a layup, and Aiava brought Westminster even at 34 with a 3-point jumper with 4:40 left.

From that point on, the Lions could not play defense without drawing a whistle. Loara shot an astonishing 20 free throws in the last four minutes, and the Saxons made 18 to cruise to victory.

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