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MICHAEL LOPEZ, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
El Toro's George Buaku, left, goes for a layup against Santiago's Chima Wami during Friday's CIF-SS Division 1A quarterfinal at Santiago High in Corona.

El Toro bulls its way through quarterfinal hurdle

FOR OCVARSITY.COM

CORONA – El Toro's boys basketball team did something it hasn't done in many years on Friday night.

The Chargers won a quarterfinal playoff game.

Ryan Roberts scored a game-high 18 points, and El Toro made all the clutch plays down the stretch to edge Santiago of Corona, 70-64, in a CIF-SS Division 1A playoff game at Santiago High.

After controlling the game for three quarters, El Toro held a 50-42 lead to start the fourth before Santiago quickly cut the deficit to four points with 6:10 left to play.

That's when El Toro coach Todd Dixon called a timeout to settle his team down. Immediately out of the break, the Chargers ran a set play to free up Roberts, who dropped in a shot from the free-throw line to put a halt to the Sharks' run.

"We got in to a little bit of a rut offensively, and we got a little passive," Dixon said. "We called that timeout and said, 'hey we got to go win this thing, you're not going to be given it, it's not going to be given to you, we got to go win it.'"

Roberts' shot sparked a 7-0 run that gave El Toro a 57-46 lead. Roberts also hit a 3-pointer, which was assisted by Sean Harman, to cap the run.

Santiago cut El Toro's lead to 61-57 but would get no closer.

The Chargers (26-5) will be home for the semifinals Tuesday against Crescenta Valley.

Tanner Aguera, who finished with 11 points, then set up Jake Lunardi for a layup. Lunardi was fouled on the play and converted the free throw to give the Chargers a 64-57 lead.

Lunardi, who scored 11 points, was huge for the Chargers as he went 5 of 5 from the line down the stretch to help seal the game.

El Toro shot 17 of 24 from the line. The Chargers also made 9 of 15 3-pointers.

Liam Skelly had 13 points for the Chargers and Cody White added seven points.


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