One of the most intriguing matchups in the second round of the CIF 1AA Playoffs will be played in Triton Gym at 7 p.m. Tuesday when San Clemente (19-7,8-0) hosts Tustin (25-2, 10-0).
Both come into the game with substantial winning streaks. The Tritons, the 14th seed in the bracket, have won 12 straight and have not lost a game in 2015.
The Tillers, the No. 3 seed, have won 18 straight and are also unbeaten this year. Here's where the intrigue begins. Their last loss was to San Clemente, 54-50, on December 19. Their only other loss was to perennial powerhouse Mater Dei, the county's top-ranked team and the No. 2 seed in the open division.
So Tustin will be out for a measure of revenge when it travels down Interstate 5 to San Clemente. And the Tritons will be looking to prove the win over the Tillers in the semifinals of the Irvine World News Tournament was not a fluke.
That night San Clemente got 27 points from senior forward Sam Darnold, which included five three-pointers.
Both teams are champions of their leagues in which they went undefeated, San Clemente in the South Coast and Tustin in the Empire. And they had similar results in the first round of the playoffs -- the Tritons with a 54-43 win over Downey and the Tillers 53-37 over Schurr.
Most media polls pick Tustin as the No. 5 team in Orange County and San Clemente around No. 12. But it can be argued that the Tritons played a more challenging schedule, having competed against four of the top 10 teams in the county compared to the Tillers' two.
At the end of league play, 12 of the Tritons' opponents were ranked in their respective divisions of CIF, while seven of Tustin's were. San Clemente also played four games against out-of-state schools during a December tournament.
The teams had only two common opponents. Both defeated Troy -- San Clemente 73-69 in early January and Tustin 61-38 in early December. Both also played Woodbridge. The Tillers won their game 47-34, while the Tritons turned in Jeckyll and Hyde performances in two games against the Warriors, winning 74-46 then losing 63-56 five days later.
A defensively oriented squad, Tustin holds its opponents to an average of just 42.7 point per game. The Trtions, who at times like to push the pace, give up an average of 53.9 ppg.
This translates to the offensive end where the Tillers score an average of 56 points, and the Tritons get 60.7 per game.
Individually, Tustin is led by its 5-9, 155 pound senior point guard T.J. Smalls, widely regarded as one of the best guards in the county. He averages 17 points per game.
Their second scoring option is 6-3, 185 pound, senior forward George Wilson, who chips in 12 per game.
Myles Garvin, a 6-4, 215 pound senior forward, adds 8.2 point per game for Tustin, and after that their is a significant drop off to less than four points per game for any other Tiller.
San Clemente has seven players on its roster who averaged more than that. It is led by the senior duo of 6-5, 220 pound forward Sam Darnold (14.7 points, 8.5 rebounds) and 6-4, 195 pound guard Nick Crankshaw (11. 33 points, 7.2 rebounds, 6.1 assists).
After them, the Tritons have a tightly packed group of scorers in Scott Herrod (7.0 ppg), Gage Shelmidine (7.8 ppg), Joe Mann (7.9 ppg) and Cade Griffin (8.8 ppg). Jake Cameron (5.0 ppg) and Cole Fotheringham also have higher averages than Tustin's fourth-leading scorer.
Ticket prices for Tuesday's game are $10 general admission and $5 for students with ASB cards and children.