With only two players scoring more than four points, the Triton Varsity bowed out of the 2013-14 season with at 54-39 loss at Rancho Verde in the first round of the CIF-SS 1AA Playoffs. But despite its problems scoring, San Clemente kept the game close through three quarters. It trailed by only one at the half and by five at the end of the third period. Then the offense went flat, managing only six points in the fourth quarter, while Rancho Verde put up 16 to pull away.
Returning to the Triton lineup for the first time since breaking his hand on January 17, junior Sam Darnold led San Clemente with a double-double, 15 points and 14 rebounds. Sophomore Cole Fotheringham nearly got one of his own with 9 points and 9 rebounds.
Overall, the Tritons shot only 38 percent (16 of 42) from the field and 50 percent (4 of 8) from the free throw line. And on three pointers, the team hit just three of 16 attempts (19 percent). Other San Clemente scoring came from Nick Crankshaw and Joe Mann with 4 each, Austin Miller and Elijah Morris with 3 each, and Gage Shelmidine with 1. The loss ends the Tritons' season with a 12-15 record.
Last year's Sea View League and team MVP, 6-5 215 junior forward Sam Darnold will return from injury to play for the Tritons in the first round of the CIF 1AA Playoffs.
Darnold played in only eight games this season, missing the beginning of the season with a broken foot, then breaking his hand in the January 17 loss to Trabuco Hills. While available, he led the team in scoring (14.6 points per game) and rebounds (9.6 per game).
Darnold is expected to be able to play without limitations. And since he is returning from a hand injury, as opposed to his prior foot injury, his conditioning should be adequate for the playoff game.
Getting paired up with the No. 7 seed in the CIF-SS 1AA Playoffs, the Tritons will travel to Moreno Valley on Friday for a 7 p.m. first-round matchup against the Rancho Verde Mustangs.
The Mustangs, 19-6 overall, 10-2 in league, finished second in the Inland Valley League behind J.W. North, which has been promoted to the CIF Playoffs Open Division. The Tritons (12-14, 3-5) finished third in the Sea View League, and could have expected to draw the first-place team from another league. The playoff pairing implies San Clemente is ranked 26th in the division.
The two teams had no common opponents during the regular season, and Rancho Verde does not post player statistics or even a roster online. Based on its game scores, the Mustangs would appear to be a defensively oriented squad, giving up only 44.8 points per game. They scored 53.6 per game. Rancho Verde's league finale on Tuesday was a low-scoring 32-26 victory over 10-14 Vista del Lago.
In contrast, San Clemente scored 57.5 per game, while surrendering 57.1 per game. Its regular season finale was a 60-53 loss to another Mustang team, Trabuco Hills.
But very little of that should factor into the first-round matchup. The Tritons could be a much different team from what they showed during the regular season. Returning from injuries will be 2013 Sea View League MVP Sam Darnold, who missed all but eight games, and 6-6 center Eric Anderson, who made a brief season debut in the Tritons' league finale against Trabuco HIlls. See sidebar story for more details on Darnold's return to action.
If San Clemente can pull off the upset, it would get a home game at 7 p.m. Tuesday, February 25, in the second round of the playoffs. That was assured based on the results of a coin flip held Saturday. The Tritons' opponent would be the winner of West Ranch and Long Beach Millikan.
A victory by West Ranch automatically places the game in Triton Gym. If Millikan and San Clemente win, the venue was determined by the coin flip. Millikan and San Clemente met at the raucous Millikan gym in the second round of the playoffs last year, when the Rams pulled a notorious 12th seed vs. 5th seed upset over the Tritons.
With a some-what disappointing regular season behind it, the Triton Varsity repeatedly will be pushing the refresh buttons on their computers Sunday afternoon to find out who they will be facing in the first round of the CIF 1AA Playoffs. Pairings for the boys basket-ball playoffs will be announced beginning at 12:30 p.m. Sunday. A link to the CIF Southern Section website has been provided at right above.
This is the first year of a new format for the playoffs. The top teams from each division will be moved to an open division in an effort to determine the true best team in the state and to remove "super teams" from the divisional brackets.
By virtue of its third-place finish in the Sea View League, San Clemente would normally expect to be matched up against the first-place team from another league. However, with some first-place teams likely to be moved to the open division, the Tritons could get a highly rated second-place team. Some have rumored that it could be Mission Viejo, which finished second behind El Toro in the South Coast League.
Mission Viejo was ranked ninth in the most recent CIF poll. But with the top five teams from the 1AA Division having been moved to the Open Division, a Triton matchup with the Diablos is a possibility. Other high seeds who remain in the division are Long Beach Poly, Rancho Cucamonga, Damien and Los Alamitos.
Though CIF does not publish rankings below No. 16, San Clemente is ranked at No. 34 in the division according to Max-Preps/CBS Sports.
No matter whom the opponent is, the Tritons will open the playoffs on the road. If they win that game, they would have an opportunity for a home game in the second round. If the opponent on the other side of the bracket played at home in the first round, San Clemente would automatically get a home game. If not, then the venue would be decided by a coin flip.
Entering the playoffs on a two-game losing streak, the Tritons will get some help through the return to action of 2013 league MVP Sam Danold, who missed all but eight games this season due to injury, most recently a broken hand suffered on January 17. They'll also have 6-6 center Eric Anderson, who saw his first action Thursday.
After closing out league play with a 60-53 loss to Trabuco Hills, the Triton Varsity will look ahead to Sunday afternoon when pairings for the first round of the CIF 1AA Playoffs will be announced. Regardless of the outcome of the Trabuco game, San Clemente (3-5, 12-14) was assured of capturing third place in the Sea View League and the automatic playoff berth that goes with it.
Against Trabuco, the Tritons were outscored in each of the first three quarters and trailed by 11 going to the fourth. They put up 18 to the Mustangs' 14 in the final period, but fell short of the upset. With the win, Trabuco Hills clinched a share of the Sea View League title, tying with Dana Hills.
San Clemente's scoring was led by Cade Griffin and Gage Shelmidine with 16 each. Cole Fotheringham added 7; Elijah Morris, 6; Nick Crankshaw, 5; Eric Anderson, 2; and Austin Miller, 1. The game marked the season debut of the 6-6 Anderson, who had missed the first 25 games due to injury.
A balanced scoring attack and outstanding free throw shooting helped the Triton Junior Varsity hold on for a 65-63 victory over Trabuco Hills. The win gives San Clemente (6-2, 19-7) a share of the Sea View League champion-ship, the team's third consecutive title.
Four players scored in double figures for the Tritons, who also shot 86 percent (19 of 22) from the free throw line. This included six of six in the closely contested fourth quarter.
Feeding the ball inside to 6-4 forward-center Marcus Wilson, San Clemente jumped out to an eight-point lead after one period of play. It used the same formula to maintain this margin at the half, by which time Wilson had 13 points.
But Trabuco began chipping away in the third quarter, closing to within four at the end of the period. San Clemente rebuilt the lead to nine early in the fourth, before Trabuco went on a 10-0 run to take the lead by one with just under a minute to play. Triton sophomore Daniel Klevit responded with a three-pointer to put San Clemente back in front by two.
Then Jake Cameron helped cement the victory by stealing the ball and converting it into two foul shots, which he made, giving the Tritons a four point lead with 30 seconds to play. Trabuco cut the lead to two, but Jake Russell closed them out by hitting two more free throws with eight seconds to play. The Mustangs scored a meaningless two-pointer at the buzzer for the final margin.
Wilson finished with 18 points to lead the Tritons. The other three in double figures were Cameron with 12, Tyler Voigt with 11 and Klevit with 10. Russell was not far behind with 8 points. Four from Brandon Reaves and 2 from Dean Licht rounded out San Clemente scoring.
A good start fell victim to too many too manies in the Triton Sophomore's season-ending 58-47 loss to league champion Trabuco Hills.
The Tritons jumped out to a 13-5 lead at the end of the first quarter. But even that quarter foretold troubles ahead. San Clemente missed six layups and five free throws, plus committed six turnovers in the opening period. And that would become the story of the game, too many missed layups, too many missed free throws and too many turnovers cost the Tritons.
By halftime, they trailed 22-19. The deficit was 36-29 at the end of three. San Clemente closed to within three with 90 seconds to play. That's as close as it got, as Trabuco ran up the margin by hitting its free throws down the stretch.
Triton scoring was led by Dillon Waikle with 12. He tied with Aidan Butler for the rebounding lead with 11. Dylan Hauser was the only other San Clemente player in double figures with 11, matching his assist total. He missed a triple-double by one steal. Andrew Frohner and Brad Ross each had 7 points. Butler added 5; Steven Depallens, 3; and Lukas Katsandris, 2. Ross, Frohner and Butler each pulled down 7 rebounds.
Completing the best season in Triton Freshman Basketball, history, the 2013-14 edition held on for a 49-45 win over Trabuco Hills. The win gives San Clemente an outright Sea View League championship, an undefeated (8-0) league record and a 24-1 overall record, the best by any frosh team in school history.
The Tritons had to fight to hold on for the final victory, after it appeared they had put the game away. Tied at 20 in the last two minutes of the first half, San Clemente went on a 19-1 run over the next seven minutes of play, taking what it probably thought was a commanding 39-21 lead.
But Trabuco fought back. Going on a 15-6 run of its own to close within six, 47-41, with 1:25 to play. San Clemente made enough free throws in the final seconds to hold on for the win.
Blake Birmingham with 17 was the Tritons' leading scorer. Isaac Rex with 14 was the only other San Clemente player in double figures. The team got 8 from Joey Spurgeon, , 4 each from Roberto Medrano and Daniel Mircheff, and 2 from James VanGinkel.
Miller, Brown and Young. Their names sound like they belong to a folk rock supergroup. And indeed, our house was a very, very, very fine house while they were in it. From left to right, Austin MIller, Sam Brown and Rico Young, Jr. made their final regular-season appearances in Triton Gym during Senior Night on February 11. The three seniors, all of whom were part of championship teams during their Triton careers, were honored, along with their parents, in a special pre-game ceremony. (Photo Courtesy of Kelly Mitchell, Action Sports Photography)
Hoping to build momentum and make a case for better seeding heading into next week's CIF 1AA Playoffs, the Tritons Varsity accomplished neither in a 65-61 loss to San Juan Hills. It was the first league victory for the Mustangs, who are 1-6, 10-16 overall.
The Tritons (3-4, 12-13) had already secured third place in the Sea View League and the automatic CIF 1AA Playoff berth that comes with it. The team was looking to get on a roll going into the playoffs. It appeared San Clemente might do exactly that as it closed the third quarter strong with a 45-41 lead. But that momentum was short-lived. San Juan Hills went on a 10-run to begin the final period, then extended the run to 17-5.
The Tritons managed to close within three points with possession of the ball in the final half minute of the game, but could not get off a good shot attempt.
The loss squandered a double-double performance from Nick Crankshaw, who had 19 points and 10 rebounds. Also in double figures for San Clemente were Cade Griffin and Austin Miller with 16 points each. Cole Fotheringham with 8 and Gage Shelmi-dine with 2 rounded out the Triton scoring.
The Triton Varsity concludes the regular season at 7 p.m. Thursday at San Juan Hills.
Almost single-handedly matching the total score for the entire San Juan Hills team, the freshman duo of guard Brandon Reaves and forward-center Marcus Wilson led the Triton Junior Varsity to an 84-47 win over visiting San Juan Hills. The victory sets up a game at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Trabuco Hills for a share of the Sea View League title. Reaves with 18 and Wilson with 19 combined for 37 points. At the end of the first quarter, the pair had outscored the Mustangs 25-21.
From there, San Clemente's defensive pressured withered San Juan Hills' resolve. The Mustangs scored only 26 points during the remainder of the game.
Also scoring in double figures for the Tritons were Joey Giazzon and Cullen Tayrien with 10 each. Dean Licht added 9 points, and point guard Jake Russell combined his 8 points with a game-high 9 assists for a near double-double. Other San Clemente scoring came from Jake Cameron with 4 and Daniel Klevit, Tucker Scott and Tyler Voigt with 2 each. Klevit's came with a game-high 9 rebounds.
Finding out that going through the first half of league play in dominant fashion places a huge target on their backs, the Triton Frosh nonetheless clinched at least a share of the Sea View League championship with a 61-52 win over San Juan Hills. The win boosts the freshmen to 7-0 in league, 23-1 overall. They can complete an undefeated league season and secure the title outright by winning their season finale at home Thursday against Trabuco HIlls at 4 p.m.
During the first half of league play, San Clemente won its games by an average margin of 27 points. They beat San Juan Hills by 29 in their first league meeting. But second meetings have been much closer as teams have game planned for the Tritons and San Clemente Head Coach Oscar Montecinos has substituted his entire lineup freely, confident in his team's ability to secure wins.
Against San Juan Hills, San Clemente had four players in double figures, led by Isaac Rex with 18. Ricardo Ashe added 12. Daniel Mircheff and Joey Spurgeon each had 11. Six points from Roberto Medrano, 2 from James VanGinkel and 1 from Kurt Crapo rounded out the Triton scoring.
While all three lower division teams will be playing for at least a share of the Sea View League championship this week, three S's will be on the minds of the Triton Varsity: seniors, spoiler and seeding. Tuesday's 7 p.m. home game against San Juan Hills is Senior Night. Triton seniors Sam Brown, Austin Miller and Rico Young, Jr., (see sidebar) and their parents will be honored during a special pre-game ceremony. Try to arrive by 6:30 p.m., so you don't miss it.
And the Tritons still have a lot to play for during this final week of Sea View League action. First, they can be spoilers to rival Trabuco Hills' hopes of winning its first league title since 1994. The Mustangs upset No. 9 Dana Point on Friday, so both those teams are 6-1 going into their league finales. Trabuco's is at home against San
Clemente at 7 p.m. Thursday.
The Tritons lost 51-50 to the Mustangs on January 17. But San Clemente had MVP Sam Darnold for most of that game before the junior forward broke his hand and was lost for the season.
Additionally, the varsity, which is 3-3 in league and 12-12 for the season, will be playing for seeding in next week's CIF 1AA Playoffs. The Tritons have secured third place in league and a guaranteed berth, but a couple of wins this week might help improve their seeding.
On the junior varsity level, the Tritons (17-7, 4-2) need wins over San Juan Hills at home on Tuesday and over Trabuco Hills away on Thursday to capture a share of the league championship. The team handled the all-sophomore San Juan easily, 64-34 in its league
opener. However, the Tritons came out flat two days later in losing to the Mustangs 57-35.
The Triton Sophomores, still in the midst of a remarkable turnaround after starting the season 2-8, need a win at home against Trabuco Hills on Thursday to clinch a share of the league title. The team is now 12-10 overall and 3-2 in league play. San Clemente led most of the game but lost to Trabuco 45-40 in their first league meeting.
Finally, the Triton Frosh (22-1, 6-0) appear poised to secure a league title of their own. A win Tuesday at San Juan Hills will secure at least a share of the Sea View League championship for the team. Backing that up with a victory at home Thursday against Trabuco Hills would give it an undefeated league record and outright title.
The frosh beat San Juan by 29 and Trabuco by 27 in their first league meetings.
Cade Griffin's 33 points, the highest scoring output by any Triton player in any division this season, led the Triton Varsity into the CIF Playoffs for the sixth consecutive year by virtue of its 69-65 overtime win over visiting Laguna Hills.
With two league games remaining, San Clemente at 3-3, 12-12 overall, is guaranteed to finish third in the Sea View League. Fourth place Laguna Hills fell to 1-5 in league. Even if the Tritons were to lose their final two league games and the Hawks were to win theirs, San Clemente would get the third-place nod and automatic CIF berth by virtue of its two head-to-head wins over Laguna Hills.
Against the Hawks, Griffins' scoring outburst grabbed the headline away from teammate Nick Crankshaw, who missed a triple-double by a single assist. He finished the game with 10 points, 17 rebounds and 9 assists, not to mention 5 steals and 5 blocks.
The Tritons trailed 31-26 at halftime, but went on a 22-11 run in the third quarter to seize the lead. During the period, San Clemente consistently drove to the basket to convert layups or generate free throw opportunities off of Laguna Hills fouls. In fact, it did not shoot an outside shot until the final 45 seconds of the quarter. But then in the fourth quarter the Tritons missed a number of three-point attempts, with subsequent long rebounds leading to easy scores for the Hawks. Regulation ended with the game tied at 57.
Besides Griffin and Crankshaw, San Clemente got 12 points from Elijah Morris, 8 from Austin Miller, 3 from Joe Mann, 2 from Gage Shelmidine and 1 from Cole Fotheringham.
San Clemente had hoped to be able to play Trabuco Hills on Friday for a share of second place in the Sea View League. But Trabuco's 40-30 upset of the Dolphins means those two teams will in all likelihood tie for the league title. The Tritons needed Dana to beat the Mustangs in order to have a shot at second place.
Only one player scored in double figures, but that didn't stop the Triton Junior Varsity as it ran away from Laguna Hills in a 71-43 wire-to-wire win. Daniel Klevit with 13 points was the only San Clemente player in double figures. His three consecutive three-pointers in the final two minutes of the opening quarter extended the
Triton lead to 18-8. From there, the rout was on.
High-pressure defense led to easy offense the rest of the way,and the Tritons (17-7, 4-2) were able to rest their starters for the entire fourth quarter. San Clemente had 15 steals and forced another couple of dozen Hawks' turnovers. A total of 10 Triton players took advantage of this to get in the scoring column.
Dean Licht has 8 points. Joey Giazzon, Ryan Martinez, Brandon Reaves and Tyler Voigt each added 7. Cullen Tayrien had 6; Jake Cameron and Shaughn Ritchie, 5 each; and Jake Russell, 4.
The Triton Junior Varsity returns to action at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday when in hosts San Juan Hills.
More than Dillon Waikle's 6-5 height loomed large over Laguna Hills tonight. His team season-high 27 points paced the Triton Sophomores to a wire-to-wire 65-47 win over the Hawks. He backed that up with a double-double producing 12 rebounds. Also in double figures, and with his own double-double, was Dylan Hauser with 17 points and 12 assists, a handful of them to Waikle.
San Clemente also got double-digit rebounding games from Brad Ross, with a team-high 14,
many of them offensive, and from Aidan Butler with 11. The duo chipped in 6 and 2 points, respectively. Butler was hampered by foul trouble throughout the game
San Clemente pulled away to a 14-8 lead at the end of the first period. But complacency set in during the second as Laguna Hills chipped away at the margin to close within four, 22-18 at the half.
Then the Tritons exploded for 23 points in the third quarter, more than they scored in the entire
first half. They put up another 20 in the fourth, meaning San Clemente's second-half scoring nearly matched the Hawks' total for the entire game. Andrew Frohner with 9 points and Donte Harrington with 4 rounded out the Triton scoring.
The sophomores return to action in their season finale at 5:30 p.m. Thursday when they host Trabuco Hills.
Playing suffocating defense while rotating in the entire lineup, the Triton Frosh ran their season record to 22-1, 6-0 in league with a 42-26 win at Laguna Hills. San Clemente held the Hawks to four points in the first quarter and seven in the second before really putting the clamps on in the third period,
allowing only two points by the Hawks. The quarter ended with the Tritons leading 33-13.
From there, San Clemente coasted home with the win and closed within a victory of the Sea View League title. They'll have a chance to secure that when they travel to San Juan HIlls for a 4 p.m. game on Tuesday.
Against Laguna Hills, the Tritons were led by Blake Birmingham with 10 points. Daniel Mircheff added 9; Ricardo Ashe, 8; Joey Spurgeon, 4; and Isaac Rex, James Van Ginkel and Jimmy Varos, 2 each.
Any longshot hopes of repeating as league champions retained by the the Triton Varsity officially ended in their 64-39 loss at Dana Hills. The Dophins (19-4, 6-0) and ranked seventh in Orange County moved within a win of seizing the title from San Clemente, which dropped to 11-12, 2-3.
For the first few minutes, the Tritons kept the game close by speeding up the pace with a variety of traps and presses. But once Dana Hills settled down and began to methodically attack the defenses it ran out to a 24-10 lead at the end of the first period.
The pace also caused the Triton offense, playing without its two leading scorers, into a number of uncharacteristic turnovers, including nine traveling violations.
For the middle two periods, San Clemente successfully slowed the Dolphins' offense by playing mostly zone coverage. But not gaining any ground offensively and still trailing by 16 at the end of three periods, the Tritons were forced to ramp up the defensive pressure again, which Dana Hills exploited en route to the final margin.
Cole Fotheringham was the only Triton to score in double figures with 12. Gage Shelmidine had 9,
and Nick Crankshaw contributed 8 as part of a strong overall stat line which included team highs in rebounds, 10, and assists, 6. San Clemente had a total of only 8 assists. Other Triton scoring came from Cade Griffin with 6 and Austin Miller and Rico Young with two each.
The Triton Varsity returns to action at 7 p.m. Friday when it hosts Laguna Hills for a Sea View League matchup with CIF Playoff hopes on the line.
Perhaps lost in the emotion of a chippy 71-70 overtime win by the Triton Junior Varsity at rival Dana Hills was the fact that down by a point with 19 seconds remaining in the extra period San Clemente Head Coach Matt Miller decided to end the game then and there.
As planned during a timeout, point guard Jake Russell dribbled the clock down to 10 seconds before handing off to Tyler Voigt on the right wing and clearing out. From there, Voigt drove hard to the basket and drew a two-shot foul with 6.9 seconds remaining. The 66 percent free throw shooter hit the first for the tie and the second for what would be the winning point. The Tritons defended the final seconds without a serious scoring threat.
Voigt led San Clemente (16-7, 3-2) with a personal season high of 23 points. Also in double figures for the Tritons was the freshman duo of Brandon Reaves and Marcus Wilson. Reaves' 12 points were a season high. Wilson had 10. Daniel Klevit and Dean Licht were next in the scoring hierarchy with 8 points each as part of well-rounded games. Klevit tied with Wilson for team high in rebounds with 9 and had 6 steals. Licht had 4 rebounds and 4 assists. Other Triton scoring came from Jake Russell with 5 and a team high 9 assists. Jake Cameron and Joey Giazzon each added a three-pointer, and Shaughn Ritchie had 2 points.
The Triton Junior Varsity returns to action at 5:30 p.m. Friday when it hosts Laguna Hills.
Living dangerously as they had in winning nine of their previous 10 games finally caught up to the Triton Sophomores in a 45-40 loss at Dana Hills. During its streak, the team had repeatedly relied on late-game heroics to pull out victories. This time the Tritons just didn't make the plays down the stretch.
San Clemente trailed throughout: 11-9 after the first period; 21-17 at the half; and 35-29 entering the fourth period. Every time the Tritons drew close, Dana Hills seemed to answer with a three pointer.
And San Clemente had too little offense of its own. Dylan Hauser led Triton scorers with 13 points, but was the only San Clemente player in double figures. He also had 7 assists.
Andrew Frohner added 7 points. Aidan Butler and Dillon Waikle had 6 each; Steven Depallens and Donte Harrington, 2 each; and Justin Kowalski, 2.
The Triton Sophomores (11-10, 2-2) return to action at 5:30 p.m. Friday when they travel to Laguna Hills.
After a few weeks of playing in cruise control, the Triton Frosh withstood a well-planned challenge from Dana Hills to win 42-38, going to 21-1 for the season and 5-0 in league.
San Clemente had not had a winning margin of less than 15 points in 2014. But the Dolphins had obviously game planned in an effort to take the Tritons' starting point guard and leading scorer Blake Birmingham out of the game by employing box-and-one and triangle-and-two defenses to keep the ball away from him.
This coupled with foul trouble on two other starters, Joey Spurgeon and James VanGinkel, turned this contest into something much different than the two 20-point blowouts the Tritons enjoyed in the teams' two previous meetings.
Stepping up to fill the scoring void left by the defensive focus on Birmingham was Roberto Medrano, who led San Clemente with a personal season high 13 points. He has been consistently increasing his role on the team during league play.
Birmingham still had 9 points for the Tritons. Ricardo Ashe added 8; Daniel Mircheff and VanGinkel, 4 each; Isaac Rex, 3; and Spurgeon, 1.
After a break for final exams, the Triton Frosh return to action at 4 p.m. Friday when they travel to Laguna Hills for a Sea View League contest.