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Mission Viejo struggles in first loss of season, 70-58

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

The first words Mission Viejo boys basketball coach Troy Roelen uttered after his team suffered its first loss of the season were few, yet accurate.

"We weren't very good today," he said.

The short statement summed up the Diablos' 70-58 loss to La Costa Canyon of Carlsbad in the championship game of the Quixscore Division of the MaxPreps Invitational on Saturday afternoon at Palm Desert High.

Mission Viejo (15-1) turned the ball over 20 times. Eight 3-pointers and 29 points from La Costa's Jeff Van Dyke didn't help the Diablos' bid to stay undefeated.

Mission Viejo didn't look much like itself in the opening period, as it turned the ball over seven times. But the Diablos were able to come out of the first quarter tied at 14 with La Costa Canyon (11-3).

Mission Viejo turned the ball over three more times in the second period, but inspired play from Chandler Hutchison gave the Diablos a 29-26 lead at halftime.

While Diablos star guard Evan Zeller struggled to get into a flow in the first half (four points), Hutchison poured in 12 points and pulled down seven rebounds in the opening half to pace Mission Viejo.

"We had 10 turnovers and three assists at halftime," Roelen said. "And I told (my team) at halftime that's not the way we play. For some reason today we chose not to share the ball."

After La Costa tied the score at 37 midway through the third quarter, the closest the Diablos got was 3, as Van Dyke connected on 5 of 8 3-pointers in the second half.

Zeller finished with 15 points, nine below his season average.

Roelen credited La Costa's defense with a good game plan to bottle up Mission Viejo's top scorer, but also said that his other players didn't perform.

"Our complementary players didn't make shots," he said.

Roelen had an optimistic view as his squad prepares for its first league game Jan. 9 against Aliso Niguel.

"The last couple years after a loss it's been a good thing," he said. "We'll get back and get a few practices in and work on some things."

DEVIN UGLAND

For the Register

In the Katella Klassic:

Irvine 55, Pacifica 52: DJ Kim had 17 points and the Vaqueros rallied in the second half to beat the Mariners in the championship game at Katella High.

Kim led all scorers, and senior guard Cameron Foster added 10 points to help the Vaqueros (10-7).

Irvine gave up 22 points in the second quarter and trailed at halftime, 35-30. The Vaqueros stymied the Mariners (9-4) in the second half, allowing just 17 points.

"Our energy was better in the second half," Vaqueros coach Kris Klamberg said. "The team that comes out of the break with more energy is going to do well. We were a little more aggressive."

Pacifica did not respond well to the press of the Vaqueros, committing five turnovers on its first six possessions of the second half.

Irvine took a more aggressive approach on the offensive end as well, mixing in dribble penetration to score points in the paint. Kim scored eight points in the quarter, all of them on driving layups to the left side of the hoop.

The Vaqueros held a 43-42 lead after the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Irvine turned to Foster to play the role of closer. Foster converted 4 of 9 attempts for eight points in the final frame, giving the Vaqueros a 51-44 edge with 1:42 remaining.

"Cameron made some nice plays when he needed to," Klamberg said.

Klamberg also said his team was assisted in a big way by Jackson Van Kirk, who hit three shots from behind the arc to keep his team close through three quarters.

Pacifica used a full-court press to make a late run. The Mariners had little risk in doing so, as five fouls to give allowed them to force a pair of turnovers with their aggressive defense. Tarek Soubra scored on a fast-break layup, and Stephen Kennedy followed with a 3-point jumper to cut the deficit to two with 50 seconds remaining.

The Mariners' comeback attempt went for naught, as Kim sank all four of his free-throws late to ice the Vaqueros victory.

ANDREW TURNER

For the Register


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