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DeFreitas sparks Woodbridge past Esperanza
IRVINE – Woodbridge's boys basketball team, left shorthanded by a string of injuries, needed someone to provide a lift Friday night.
Junior Austin DeFreitas did just that, scoring 10 points off the bench, including eight in the fourth quarter to help Woodbridge get past Esperanza, 69-66, in a pool-play game of the Irvine World News/Gary Raya Classic at Woodbridge.
The 6-foot-1 DeFreitas, who was a running back for the Warriors football team, knew he would get a chance after starting forward Jason Gregson went down because of an ankle injury Thursday, sidelining him for Friday's game.
Centers David McCutchan and Jun Kim also are out because of injuries.
"I usually don't play so I came off the bench pretty hard," DeFreitas said. "We had a couple guys down, and we knew we had to come out fast."
Woodbridge will face Valencia on Saturday at 3 p.m. at Beckman. Esperanza and Irvine will play at 1:30 p.m.
Woodbridge (3-5) held what looked to be a comfortable 64-55 lead with 3:49 left in the game before Esperanza (4-6) rallied, cutting its deficit to 68-66 on a follow shot by Parker Sims with 31 seconds remaining.
Chase Bangs made one of two free throws with 24 seconds left to give the Warriors a three-point lead. Esperanza tried to tie the score with a 3-pointer but the shot fell off the rim and Woodbridge's Keanu Tamara rebounded the ball.
Woodbridge had a balanced effort with five players scoring in double figures. Chris Ho scored 14 points, Bangs and Kazu Tsubaki had 13 points each and Michael Scarlett added 11.
"We had a lot of length sitting on the bench with crutches," Woodbridge Coach John Halagan said. "I told the guys before the game when we're shorthanded I'm going to go even deeper in the bench.
"We played 13 guys, and every one of them played well whether they were scoring or setting the table on the offensive or defensive end."
Esperanza held its own against the Warriors, led by forward Ryan Borak, who scored 21 points. Troy DeLuca had 13 points and Jarrett Brodbeck had 11.
"We just had a couple breakdowns defensively," Esperanza coach Mark Hill said. "We allowed them to get ahead. For us being such a young basketball team, at this point of the year, we need to practice more than we need to play games.
"Playing in a tournament like this where you are playing five games in six days is tough because we're so young."