Holding San Clemente more than 17 points below its season scoring average and hitting a team season-high 11 three-pointers, Downey ended the Triton Varsity's record-setting season, 55-49, in the second round of the CIF 1AA Playoffs. The Tritons finish with a record of 21-7, the most wins in program history, as well as its first back-to-back league championships.
The Vikings took control of the game for good in the second quarter, pulling away to a seven-point half-time lead that was never seriously threatened. They built the lead to as many as 12. The Tritons got with two once, at 39-37 in the third quarter, and within four several times. But each time either Downey hit one of its three-pointers or San Clemente committed one of its season-high 20 turnovers, including six travelling violations, derailing any Triton rally.
Though San Clemente shot a respectable 47 percent from the field, it attempted a season-low 36 field goals. It shot more three-pointers (8 of 19) than two-pointers (9 of 17). But the turnovers and lack of offensive rebounds prevented the Tritons from having enough attempts to approach its season scoring average of 67 points per game.
Jake Cameron led San Clemente with 17 points, including five three-pointers. Cole Fotheringham had 13, including nine of the Tritons's first 14 points. He only had two shot attempts thereafter. James Paterson added 9 and Dillon Waikle 7. Blake Birmingham hit a three-pointer in the game's final minute as the Tritons attempted one last rally.
San Clemente would host No. 2 J.W North or travel to No. 15 Rancho Cucamonga on Tuesday for a CIF 1AA quarterfinal game, if it is victorious in its Sweet Sixteen matchup at Downey on Friday. The venues were determined in coin flips held today at the CIF offices in Cerritos.
With the top 10 teams in the CIF 1AA Division being promoted to the Open Division for the playoffs, San Clemente, champions of the South Coast League, moved up to the seventh seed and will host No. 26 Fountain Valley at 7 p.m. Wednesday in a first-round playoff game.
The Barons, 16-2 overall, but 1-9 in the tough Sunset League, got into the playoffs as an at-large team, despite finishing tied for last in league. They have lost their last seven games, but got the playoff nod on the strength of an early-season record that had them at 16-5 before their woes in league play.
The two teams had one common opponent during the season, Edison. The Tritons lost to the Chargers, 78-73, on December 16 at the Irvine World News Tournament in a game which San Clemente (20-6, 7-1) led by eight with less than two and a half minutes to play.
Fountain Valley faced Edison twice in league, losing 50-45 on January 22 and 76-57 on February 9.
Offensively, the Tritons average 67.9 points per game to the Barons' 59. But Fountain Valley gives up fewer points, 53.1 per game to San Clemente's 57.
A definite size advantage will tilt toward the Tritons. Fountain Valley has only two players listed at 6-3 or taller. With its playoff promotions, San Clemente will have 10, including 6-3, 6-5 and 6-11 starters, James Paterson, Cole Fother-ingham and Dillon Waikle, respectively.
And while the Triton starters are all seniors, the Barons do not have a senior on their roster. But they do have shooters.
Leading scorer Matt Serven, a junior guard, is averaging 18.1 points per game and has made 97 three-pointers this season. Another junior guard, Mike Lightbody, has connected on 70 threes. He is the Barons' second-leading scorer at 9.1 points per game.
San Clemente, by contrast, has five players averaging above that mark, including team leader Waikle at 14.3 and point guard Gage Shelmidine at 13.9. Fotheringham is at 11.8, Jake Cameron at 10.3 and Blake Birmingham at 9.2.
Serven, like Cameron, made eight three-pointers in a game earlier this season, and has three times each made six and five three-pointers in a game. Cameron leads the Tritons with 62 three-pointers this season. Waikle has made 55 and Birmingham 43.
There are two schools of thought after losing to a team in the playoffs: either you want that team to get beat as soon as possible or you want that team to win it all to show you were right there with the best. Tustin, which beat the Triton Varsity 61-59 in the CIF 1AA Playoffsa round of 16, supported the latter position with a 64-60 win over Millikan. The Tillers advance to the semifinals on Tuesday night against Village Christian.
After winning a coin flip held at CIF- Southern Section headquarters, the Triton Varsity could host a third-round game on Friday, Feb. 25. If the Tritons and Long Beach Millikan both win on Tuesday, San Clemente would host the 7 p.m. game. If the Tritons win and Oak Park (Agoura) beats Millikan, then San Clemente would travel to Oak Park on Friday. Obviously, if the Tritons lose their season is over.
Under CIF rules, in later rounds of the playoffs the team with the fewest home games to that point is the host team. If both teams have had an equal number of home games, the host is determined by coin flip.
A week of illness off the court and a slow start on it were not enough to stop the Triton Varsity in its 54-43 CIF 1AA Playoffs first-round victory over Downey. San Clemente will host Tustin, a 52-37 winner over Schurr, in the second round at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
In the week leading up to the game, three key rotation players, including two starters, missed days of school and practices due to flu symptoms. Two of those players, starters Cade Griffin and Gage Shelmidine, were able to play. But forward Cole Fotheringham was unable to suit up.
Once the tip off occurred, it seemed to take San Clemente a few minutes to adjust to the physical play allowed in the key by the officials. Overall, fewer than a dozen fouls were called for the entire game. And the Tritons trailed 9-8 at the end of the first period, 15-11 three minutes into the second.
That's when a three-pointer by Sam Darnold, followed immediately by a steal and layup by Nick Crankshaw on the inbounds pass gave the Tritons their first lead, one they would never relinquish. San Clemente went on a 9-0 run, upping that to 13-2 before taking a 24-17 lead into the halftime locker room.
Crankshaw was the Tritons leading scorer with 16 points and another of his habitual near triple doubles, adding nine assists and eight rebounds, as well as six steals. Darnold was the only other San Clemente player in double figures with 10 points. He added eight rebounds.
It looked like the Tritons might blow the game open in the first minute of the third period when they scored five quick points to extend the run to 18-2 and the lead to 12. But the Vikings got those points back, then the teams traded baskets for the remainder of the period.
Another 12-4 San Clemente run to open the fourth period put the game away. Downey Coach Larry Shelton waved the white flag with two minutes remaining by clearing his bench with the Tritons leading by 16. Triton Coach Marc Popovich responded in kind, and the five points scored by the Vikings in the final minute made the score closer than the game.
Beside Crankshaw and Darnold, the Tritons got nine-point games from Scott Herrod and Joe Mann, six from Griffin and two each from Shelmidine and Dillon Waikle. Mann had seven rebounds, and Griffin five.
There are generally two schools of thought after losing to a team in the playoffs. Either you want them to get their butts kicked immediately, or you want them to win it all to show you were right there with the best. Tustin, which beat the Triton Varsity 61-59 in the round of 16, moved into the CIF 1AA Semifinals with a 64-60 win over Long Beach Millikan. The Tillers will face Village Christian on Tuesday.
Cox Communications has announced that Friday's CIF 1AA Playoff game vs. Downey will be Cox Channel 3's Game of the Week. Broadcast crews will be in Triton Gym for the 7 p.m. game, which will be aired at 11 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. Saturday, and 1 and 7 p.m. Sunday.
San Clemente won a coin flip at the CIF Southern Section office to determine the host team in a possible second round 1AA playoff game against Tustin on Tuesday, Feb. 24. Both teams are the higher seeds and hosting opening round games on Friday. Under CIF rules, the team with the fewest home games is automatically the host team in later rounds. If both teams have an equal number of home games, the host is determined by coin flip.
If San Clemente wins on Friday but Tustin loses, the Tritons would travel to Schurr High School in Montebello on Tuesday. Obviously, if the Tritons lose, they are eliminated from the playoffs.
A decidedly maritime-themed CIF Southern Section 1AA playoff game between the Tritons and Downey Vikings has been set for 7 p.m. on Friday in Triton Gym. Ticket prices are $10 for adults and $5 for students with ID and children.
San Clemente, champions of the South Coast League with a record of 18-7 (8-0 in league), is seeded 14th in the playoff bracket released today. Downey, the third-place team in the San Gabriel Valley League at 18-8 (6-4 in league), is seeded 19th. It finished behind Gahr and Lynwood in league.
The Tritons come into the game on an 11-game winning streak and are unbeaten in 2015. The streak corresponds with the full-time return of its starting lineup from injuries and football commitments.
Downey, on the other hand, has lost two of its last three, including a three-point loss on Feb. 10 to its league's fourth-place team, Paramount, which finished the season at 8-18.
The teams had two common opponents during the regular season, with similar results. Both lost to Corona del Mar in December: the Tritons 64-47 and the Vikings 61-56. And both defeated Dana Hills. The Tritons did it twice, 58-43 and 54-46; and the Vikings once, 62-51.
Statistically, San Clemente scored slightly more points per game than Downey (61.0 to 57.8), while the Vikings gave up fewer on defense (50.1 to 54.4)
As for the rosters, the Tritons will have a size advantage. Downey lists more than half of its roster at six feet or under, while San Clemente posts half of its players at 6-3 or over. The Vikings have no player over 6-4. San Clemente has four, as well as a quartet at 6-4 to Downey's duo.
C.J. Smith, a junior forward, is one of those 6-4 Downey players, and its leading scorer (12.9 ppg) and rebounder (7.9 rpg). Two other Vikings average in double figures: 6-3 senior forward Jeraun Richards at 11.6 ppg and 5-10 senior guard Justin Ayala at 10 ppg.
The Tritons have only two players averaging in double figures on offense: 6-5 senior forward Sam Darnold (15 ppg) and 6-4 guard Nicholas Crankshaw (11.1 ppg). The duo also leads the Tritons in rebounding at 8.5 and 7.2 rpg, respectively.
San Clemente, however, has four more players averaging more than the 6.7 ppg of Downey's fourth-leading scorer, 6-1 junior guard Tyler Dees. These are Cade Griffin (8.9 ppg), Gage Shelmidine (8.0 ppg), Joe Mann (7.8 ppg) and Scott Herrod (6.9 ppg).
Refresh buttons on the computers of Triton Varsity players and coaches will be working overtime between 1 and 1:20 p.m. Sunday when the bracket pairings for the CIF-SS 1AA Playoffs are released.
The Tritons, who went undefeated in the South Coast League to win the title, are hoping to get a favorable seed and a first-round home game on Friday. It also hopes to be placed in the top half of the bracket against a lower-ranked opponent.
Among the factors San Clemente would like the seeding committee to consider are its 18-7 record against a schedule full of ranked and playoff teams and the fact that it has won 11 straight games, going undefeated so far during the 2015 calendar year. And it did not lose a game once its two-sport athletes returned full-time from the football field.
During a historic 50th Anniversary season, the Tritons unbeaten record in league is the first in school history. Their two league titles in three years is a watershed moment, as the previous gap was 38 years.
The team's seventh straight CIF Playoff berth is a school record. And, individually, Nick
Crankshaw, Sam Darnold and Cole Fotheringham became the first players in school history to earn two varsity league championships.
All of this occurred against a historic backdrop while the program celebrated its 50th anniversary, which included introducing its All-50 team during a ceremony in late-January. Darnold was included as a member of that team.
Success was not limited to the varsity during the 2014-15 season. With the program's best overall record at 21-3, the Triton Junior Varsity earned a share of its fourth consecutive league championship.
During pre-league competition, the J.V. won two tournaments, Sage Creek and Dana Hills.
Not to be out done, Coach Chris Schefter's sophomore squad also won a share of the league title, pulling out a one-point victory over Dana Hills on the season's final day to secure the honor. The Triton Soph finished the season at 14-7 overall.
On the freshmen level, the Tritons couldn't quite catch a strong Aliso Niguel squad, finishing second in league with a 15-8 overall record, 6-2 in league.
The frosh B squad also had a stronge season, finishing at 10-3. It also won a pre-league tournament at Tesoro in December.
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.