Besides becoming the first four-year varsity letterman in Triton Basketball history to wear four different jersey numbers during his career, senior forward Cole Fotheringham has achieved a couple of more notable mile-
stones during his senior season.
First, he became the first San Clemente player to win three varsity league titles. Further, when the team notched its 10th win this season, he became the winningest player in Triton Basketball history. He is now at 69 wins and counting, and is the first four-year varsity letterman since Taylor Harrison in 2006.
Three other Tritons joined the exclusive club of those who have earned mutliple league championships at San Clemente. They are senior James Paterson, Gage Shelmidine and Dillon Waikle, all of who also played on the 2015 championship team. The only others with multiple titles in school history are 2015 Nick Crankshaw and Sam Darnold, who achieved it with championship in 2013 and 2015.
Fresh off of capturing at least a share of its second league championship in three years on Friday, the Triton Varsity returns home Tuesday to honor its seniors on Senior Night.
All 11 seniors and their families will be introduced during a special pre-game ceremony. And often there are some surprises in the starting lineup during this event.
But Senior Night could be just one of many celebrations in store for the Triton Basketball program this week. First, a win against Tuesday's opponent, Mission Viejo, which comes in at 5-19 overall, 1-5 in league, would give San Clemente an undisputed league crown.
Coupling that with a win at 6-19, 1-5 Dana Hills on Thursday would be historic for the Tritons, giving San Clemente its first undefeated league record.
The varsity also will be trying to impress the CIF-SS seeding committee in advance of next Sunday's release of the1AA Playoff Bracket.
On the J.V. level, the Tritons blew a chance to celebrate on Tuesday when they lost at El Toro on Friday. A win would have clinched at least a share of the league title for San Clemente. And, like the varsity, that would have made the game against Mission Viejo a chance to be undisputed.
Instead, the J.V. must now hold serve in its final two games against the league's fourth and fifth-place teams to share the championship, while hoping for a slip up by co-leader El Toro, which only has one league game left, against last-place Dana Hills Tuesday.
The Triton Junior Varsity, currently 19-3 overall, also will be trying to become the only Triton team to reach the 20-win mark this regular season.
For the Triton Sophs, the name of the game is win and you're in. At 5-1 in league, all indicators point to a showdown for the championship at home against Dana Hills in the season's final game. During a loss at Dana Hills earlier in league, the sophs played without two injured starters, Trevor Ankrom and Luke Melby.
At 4-2 in league, the Triton Frosh are probably going to have to settle for second place, if they win out, barring a major meltdown by first-place Aliso Niguel, which is 6-1 in league and whose only remaining league game is against last-place Mission Viejo Thursday.
The 9-3 Triton Frosh B get one more chance to show their stuff when they travel to Mission Viejo on Tuesday for a 7 p.m.contest, their last of the season.
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Going into the 2013-14 season, the Triton Junior Varsity had high hopes of challenging the standard set by the previous year's team, which went 25-1 for the best record in school history.
Those hopes were challenged early on as two players from the pre-season roster, junior Joe Mann and Vince Smetona, were called up to the varsity. Then, only five games into the season, the team's starting point guard, James Paterson, went down with a hip injury that kept him out of action.
Nonetheless, the team found a way to a 19-win season, the championship of the El Toro Tournament and, most importantly, a share of its third-consecutive league title.
Even after Paterson went down, the Tritons managed to keep their early season momentum going. But then they hit a rough patch from December 30 to January 22, losing five of seven games. Unfortunately for San Clemente, part of this timeframe corresponded with the beginning of Sea View League play, and the Tritons fell to 1-2 after three league games.
Then San Clemente got its mojo back, winning its final six games. This included a non-league victory at Tesoro and one-point league wins on the road at Dana Hills and Trabuco Hills. All three of these avenged earlier losses for the 19-7 Tritons, who wound up tied with Dana and Trabuco for the league crown.
The late season re-energization of the team came roughly at the same time as the emergence of freshman center/forward Marcus Wilson as a force. He earned the team's most-improved player award.
But holding the team together throughout were their other three award winners: sophomore forward Daniel Klevit, defensive player of the year; junior guard Tyler Voigt, offensive player of the year; and junior guard Jake Russell, Coaches' Award. It was Russell who had to move over from the shooting guard spot to run the offense when Paterson went down early in the season.
It's definitely worth noting that Paterson, a sophomore, has as of this date been cleared by doctors to return to the court. He is participating in spring club team games, and is expected to be at full strength for next basketball season.
When the Triton Frosh received a bye in the first round of the season-opening Dana Hills Tournament, it was a small show of respect for a team which had excelled during summer tournament play.
Little did the tournament organizers or the Triton Frosh know that the one game would be the difference between them tying for the best season record of any team in Triton Basketball history instead of earning the nonetheless lofty best freshman team record in Triton Basketball history.
But that's what happened as the 2013-14 frosh went on to post a 24-1 record and become the only Triton freshman team to win an undefeated league championship. The 2012-13 Triton Junior Varsity at 25-1 still has the record for best season by any Triton Basketball team.
This year's frosh accomplishment probably seemed even more unlikely when the team was down by 27 late in the third quarter of its second game of the season versus Woodbridge. They would close to within three before suffering their only loss of the year. And only four days later they would avenge that loss in double overtime.
That win was the second of a school record 23 straight the Triton Frosh would put up the remainder of the season.
En route, San Clemente would win championships at the Laguna Hills and Capistrano Valley tournaments. It was the second consecutive year that the Triton Frosh won the Capo Valley title.
With few exceptions, the games were not close, as the Tritons scored an average of 55.76 points per game to their opponents' 39.32 points per game, a margin of 16.44 points.
But it did get tougher as teams learned how to game plan for the Tritons. The first time through league, the team won its games by an average of more than 27 points. But the second time through San Clemente's well-prepared opponents cut the average margin to just over nine points. In fact, Dana Hills and Trabuco Hills both came within four points of the Tritons in their second league encounters.
When the games got close, Head Coach Oscar Montecinos leaned heavily on his Co-MVPS, guards Blake Birmingham and Joey Spurgeon. "These guys didn't play like freshmen," Montecinos said. "They played with lots of poise when the games got close, and they absolutely refused to let the team lose."
One of the players Coach Montecinos turned to for a scoring punch was Isaac Rex, whom he called "possibly the best pure shooter I've
seen as long as I've been coaching." Rex was named offensive player of the year for the freshman squad.
On defense, a player who was not a big part of the early-season rotation stepped up as the year progressed. Roberto Medrano worked his way into the starting lineup by season's end and was named the team's defensive player of the year. "Roberto embraced everything we wanted as a team on defense and became a very big factor in our success," said Coach Montecinos.
Forward James VanGinkel and Ricardo Ashe were the other fixtures in San Clemente's starting lineup. Chris DeGrazia also saw his fair share of starts for the Tritons.
The class of 2017 was exceptionally
deep. Two players, Brandon Reaves and Marcus Wilson, were moved up to the junior varsity squad before the season began. Still, there were 24 players on the frosh squad, which allowed for it to have a very competitive 'B' team.
The 'B' team posted a 9-4 record, including wins in six of its last seven games. The lone loss during that span was by one point in overtime at Dana Hills. It should be noted the Tritons avenged that loss 10 days later in a 46-42 victory.
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.
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.