Fierce zone lifts Tustin past Pasadena


ORANGE – It's not often that a zone defense will create 15 turnovers.

But that's what Tustin's hyperactive 2-3 zone did Thursday in the Tillers' 49-40 victory over Pasadena in a second-round game of the Dick's Sporting Goods Orange Holiday Classic boys basketball tournament at Chapman University.

That zone's front jumped out on Pasadena's outside shooters. The back row moved in unison to fill in spaces and boxed out and did everything else a coach would like from a zone.

"We've played a little bit of zone in past games," Tustin coach Ringo Bossenmeyer said. "But we haven't play it as actively and with this much intensity."

Tustin (11-1), ranked No.6 in Orange County, will play Village Christian of Sun Valley (12-1) in a semifinal today at 6:50 p.m. at Chapman. Village Christian is ranked No. 1 in Division5AA in the CIF-Southern Section poll. Tustin is No. 2 in Division 3AA.

Mater Dei, which occupies the No. 1 position in's national rankings, plays Canyon in today's other semifinal at 8:30 p.m. The championship game is Saturday at 8:30 p.m. at Chapman.

The Tillers took the lead midway through the first quarter and did not relinquish it. Tustin junior forward Rob Nelsen scored 13 points, including a fall-away, buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter. Senior forward Deondre Bryant also scored 13 for the Tillers, and senior wing Nick Hornsby scored 10.

Those three players typically are Tustin's leading scorers. So it was a welcome bonus that senior point guard Xavier Powell scored 11 points to equal his season high. His most important basket was a pull-up 7-footer in the lane after Pasadena had trimmed the Tustin lead to two points, and Pasadena got no closer.

"I can score the rock," Powell said. "But I try to get my teammates involved first."

Tustin held Pasadena (5-4) to 15 points in the second half.

Also in the Orange Holiday Classic:

Canyon 56, Yorba Linda 41: Chandler Dignam's 15 points led the Comanches (11-4) in the second round.

No. 1 Mater Dei 70, Kammehameha of Honolulu 31: In a second-round game in which 10 of their players played at least eight minutes, Stanley Johnson's 10 points in 12 minutes led the Monarchs (12-0).

In the Estancia Coast Classic:

Laguna Beach 60, Laguna Hills 43: Alec Wulff's 17 points led the Breakers (10-5) in pool play at Estancia.

In the Maxpreps Holiday Classic:

No. 9 El Toro 81, Green Valley of Las Vegas 57: Liam Skelly scored 17 points, including five of the team's 18 3-pointers, for the Chargers (13-2) in Palm Springs.

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