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Orange Lutheran feeling better after beating JSerra
SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — The Orange Lutheran boys basketball came into its tilt with JSerra losers of three in a row and seven of its past nine. Though those defeats came against some of the top teams in the state, it has been a forgettable month for arguably the best team in Orange County not named Mater Dei.
Orange Lutheran coach Chris Nordstrom said a 66-51 victory at JSerra on Tuesday, a week before the playoffs begin, will be one to remember.
“It means a lot,” Nordstrom said. “We’ve been playing some really good teams and struggling. We needed that win. You get into a little streak where you’re playing good teams, maybe get some weird bounces, and you get to feeling sorry for yourself.”
The two Trinity League powers traded leads throughout in a game that was much closer than the final score indicates.
Center Kyle Ingram’s three-point play put JSerra ahead, 47-46, early in the fourth quarter. But JSerra didn’t score again until the final minute, as No. 6 Orange Lutheran (15-9, 5-4) went on a 15-0 run to avenge a home loss to the No. 5 Lions (16-8, 5-4) in January.
“We had every reason to give that away and we dug in,” Nordstrom said. “In all ways this is a really good win for us, a really important win.”
Arizona-bound guard Gabe York went the entire first half without a field goal. He also never let up on the other end of the court as the Lancers held a slight edge in what was a superb defensive effort from both teams.
York had several shots blocked and didn’t make his first field goal until 3:30 in the third quarter. He finished with just 12 points but played the role of facilitator for his teammates.
“When he will continue to work that hard to get other guys open, we can make other guys pay,” Nordstrom said. “His movement allowed other guys some good looks.”
That included guard Payton Banks, who scored 24 points, and forward Darien Williams, who scored 11 of his 21 in the fourth quarter.
“He's that wild-card guy,” Nordstrom said. “When he's playing well, I think we’re really good. He came out focused. We’re going to need that in the playoffs.”
JSerra forward Jamal Aytes, the Lions’ leading scorer this season, had just 7 points. No Lions reached double digits in scoring.