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Pressure builds on Orange Lutheran with close loss
ORANGE – It was a loss that was bothersome Monday. It could be a worrisome loss come February.
Orange Lutheran lost to St. John Bosco of Bellflower, 72-70, on Monday in a Trinity League game at Orange Lutheran.
Orange Lutheran is in third place in the Trinity League with a 3-3 league record, one game ahead of Servite and JSerra. Third place is the final guaranteed playoff berth in the league.
The Lancers have four league games remaining, including Friday's game at Servite. Their other league games are at Santa Margarita and Mater Dei, and a regular season-ending home game Feb. 7 against JSerra.
A No. 4 team in a six-team like the Trinity League can get an at-large berth, if one is available in the team's division. Orange Lutheran is a Division 1AA school in boys basketball this season.
The 1AA division had only two at-large berths last season. The CIF-Southern Section has a basketball playoff system that moves successful teams to higher divisions — Orange Lutheran, for example, last year's Division 1A champion, has been elevated to 1AA — so the chances of the availability of two, or any, at-large berths could be slim. Thus, a 1AA fourth-place team, no matter how good the team or the team's league, might not get into the playoffs.
Lutheran had a chance to tie or win the game in the final seconds Monday. St. John Bosco lost possession with 5 seconds remaining because of a shot-clock violation. The Lancers got the ball to their best player, Payton Banks.
Banks took a leaning 3-point shot from near the Lutheran bench, and perhaps got a slight push from the St. John Bosco defender on the play, but his shot missed and the Braves got the victory.
Lutheran coach Chris Nordstrom preferred that Banks take the shot in that situation.
"We got a pretty good look there," Nordstrom said. "I thought he got fouled, but I don't want to blame it on the call."
Junior point guard Brian Beard led Lutheran with a game-high 23 points. Banks, a senior who signed with Penn State, scored 22.
The Hamilton brothers, junior Daniel and senior Isaac, led St. John Bosco (15-4 overall, 5-1 in league) with 22 points each.
In a nonleague game:
St. Edward of Lakewood, Ohio, 58, No. 1 Mater Dei 44: The visiting Monarchs (20-1) lost for the first time this season, shooting poorly in the game in Ohio.
According to The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, Mater Dei made only 16 of 52 shots and was 7 for 16 at the free-throw line. The Monarchs scored only 21 points during the final three quarters.
Stanley Johnson led Mater Dei with 16 points and 11 rebounds. The Plain Dealer reported Johnson did not start because he missed the team flight to Cleveland on Saturday.