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Aguera, El Toro reach 1A title game
LAKE FOREST – Tanner Aguera gave El Toro's foot-stomping and chanting home crowd plenty to be excited about Tuesday night in the CIF Division 1A boys basketball semifinals.
The junior came off the bench to make a season-high six 3-pointers to push the top-seeded Chargers to a 68-38 victory against visiting Crescenta Valley.
Aguera's game-high 20 points, along with El Toro's effective match-up zone defense, helped send the Chargers (27-5) to the finals for the final time since 2005.
"We played pretty close to our best game this year," Aguera said. "Let's keep it going."
El Toro will play Santa Monica and Cal-bound guard Jordan Mathews, a 60-41 winner against Dana Hills in the other semifinal, in the finals Saturday at the Anaheim Convention Center at 6 p.m.
Aguera entered the game in the first period and sank two 3-pointers to help open a 20-5 lead against Crescenta Valley (23-8). He made a 3-pointer from the corner late in the first half to give El Toro a 33-18 lead with about 1:40 left.
Both offenses started the second half slowly. El Toro coach Todd Dixon called a timeout with 4:31 left and ran a play for Aguera, who sank a 3-pointer on a pass from Cody White.
El Toro quickly added a reverse layup by White, another 3-pointer from Aguera and a layup by George Buaka off a turnover to open a 43-22 lead with 2:37 left in the third.
The 6-foot-3 Aguera made 6 of 8 3-point attempts and finished 7 of 11 from the field.
"I was hot," he said. "I kept shooting and kept feeling it. It felt good."
Buaku finished with 13 points while Sean Harman added 11. Buaku, Harman and John Leat each made 3-pointers as El Toro finished with nine. Ryan Roberts led the Chargers with eight rebounds.
Jake Lunardi and White each added eight points for the Chargers.
Dixon said El Toro played its best defensive game. He was concerned about Crescenta Valley guard Cole Currie, who finished with 15 points on 6-of-21 shooting.
"To only give up 38 points to that team, that's really nice," Dixon said. "I thought we did a great job on Cole Currie. He's a (heck) of a player."
Dixon said guards Buaku and Harman played especially well against Currie.
"We knew when they set the on-ball screen (for Currie), the other one was going to guard him," Dixon said.
Crescenta Valley coach Shawn Zargarian said El Toro's boisterous crowd also was a significant factor.
"It was a hostile environment. It was loud," he said. "For a lot of our guys, they weren't used to playing in that environment. In a big game like that, I think it kind of affected us."
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