El Toro's Sean Harman, left, drives the ball past Diamond Bar's Kenneth Thai during a CIF-SS second-round playoff game Tuesday night. El Toro won, 66-50.

El Toro starts slowly, ends up with big victory


DIAMOND BAR – Ryan Roberts scored 16 points and top-seeded El Toro had to overcome an early deficit Tuesday night to defeat Diamond Bar, 66-50, in a CIF-SS Division IA second round playoff game at Diamond Bar High.

The Chargers (25-5) advance to Friday’s quarterfinals and will play Santiago of Corona.  The Brahmas, a fourth–place team from the Hacienda League, finish the season 13-15.

“We picked up the intensity and started to drive the lanes and get better shots,” said Roberts. “We got back and played better defense in the second half.”

The Chargers played without leading scorer Cody White, who was serving a one-game suspension after being assessed two technical fouls in this past Friday’s opening-round playoff game against Cabrillo of Long Beach.

After taking a 5-0 lead to start the game, El Toro was outscored 14-2 over the final seven minutes of the first quarter and trailed 14-7 after eight minutes of play.

The Chargers defense, led by Carson Bridgeman, Tanner Aguera, Roberts, Bryan Deluise and Liam Skelly, forced six Diamond Bar turnovers in the second quarter and held the Brahmas to one basket over the final four minutes of the quarter. 

El Toro’s offense started to heat up in the second quarter and the Chargers outscored Diamond Bar, 23-9, to take a 30-23 lead at halftime.

El Toro dominated the third quarter and outscored the Brahmas, 18-3, to put the game away. Sean Harman, Roberts and Skelly hit key baskets as the Chargers built a 48-26 lead after three quarters.

“It was a hostile crowd and we knew it would be a battle, but we played hard and executed,” said Harman, who scored 13 points. 

Skelly scored 11 points, including three 3-pointers, and Jake Lunardi and Tanner Aguera added 10 points apiece for the Chargers, who have won 12 of 13.  George Buaku also scored six points. 

“We calmed down, stayed cool and handled their pressure out there,” said El Toro coach Todd Dixon.  “It means a lot to win this game.  It’s one step closer to our goal – a CIF title.”

Marcus Favela led Diamond Bar with 20 points, including five 3-pointers.

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