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El Toro on a roll, upsets No. 2 Mission Viejo
LAKE FOREST – The El Toro student body came dressed for a postgame dance, and Cody White made sure the party started a little bit early.
With 7.5 seconds remaining, White was fouled on a drive to the basket and went to the free-throw line for a chance to put the Chargers ahead.
His free throw went up and rolled around the rim before falling in. The second one was all net, giving the ninth-ranked Chargers the point they needed to beat second-ranked Mission Viejo, 73-72, in a South Coast League game Friday night at El Toro.
White scored just seven points, all on free throws.
"It looked good," White said of the first free throw. "But then it went off the left rim and started rolling around. I saw it come out and then it went back in ... I was like oh my God and somehow it rolled back in.
"That made the second free throw a lot easier."
Still, White and the Chargers (16-4, 2-0) weren't able to fully celebrate until the clock read 0.0.
After a timeout, Mission Viejo (16-2, 1-1) put the ball back in play with four seconds left. The ball went to Evan Zeller, who pulled up from 15 feet, but missed the shot. The ball went out of bounds off of an El Toro player with 0.3 seconds left under the Mission Viejo basket
"We ran everything right, had a wide-open look, it just didn't go," Mission Viejo coach Troy Roelen said. "That wasn't the issue. We didn't make free throws. That's the issue."
Mission Viejo set up one last out-of-bounds lob attempt, but the pass was broken up and the Chargers were finally able to celebrate.
"Our kids are very resilient," El Toro coach Todd Dixon said. "Being at home, the crowd was great and we showed some poise at the end.
"We executed the play at the end, Cody (White) was fouled and was able to step up, how about that first free throw?"
It only seemed fitting that the game would have the nerve-wracking ending. El Toro outscored Mission Viejo 24-6 in the second quarter to take a 40-30 lead at halftime.
With 2:33 left in the third, El Toro's lead had grown to 14. The Diablos then went on a 10-0 run to cut the score to 58-54 going into the fourth.
In the fourth, Mission Viejo had a 6-0 run, ending with Chandler Hutchinson's 16-foot jumper that gave the Diablos a 72-71 lead with 32.8 seconds remaining.
"This league is tough every game," White said. "No matter who you're playing ... you have to come out and play everyday or you're going to get beat. That's just how the league is."
Max Redfield led Mission Viejo with 23 points. Zeller had 21. Jake Lunardi had 18 points for the Chargers.
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