It didn't look that way at the end of three quarters. The Tritons struggled to get much going offensively against Dana Hills' two-three zone defense, and trailed 39-28 going to the fourth quarter. The Dolphins ran the lead up to 13 with just under six minutes to play when Coach Chris Schefter decided the team had no choice but to try to trap its way out of its funk. Usually, he would turn to forward Lukas Katsandris for a defensive spark off the bench. But Katsandris was out with an ankle injury suffered the previous day against Corona Del Mar.
Instead he went small, calling on guard Steven Depallens to join starting guards Dylan Hauser and Andrew Frohner and starting forwards Aidan Butler and Dillon Waikle in a defensive last stand.
The strategy worked, as the Tritons forced Dana Hills to repeatedly turn the ball over or take rushed shots. Plus, Depallens hit a three-pointer almost immediately after his insertion to help cut the margin. Waikle also hit for five big points during the comeback, including a three pointer. And Butler came through with six points in the last five minutes, mostly in transition off of turnovers.
But the Tritons still trailed by three with 48 seconds to play, setting the stage for Hauser to tie it with a three-pointer. On the other end, however, Dana got a basket to go back up by two. With 16 seconds to play, Hauser responded again with a pull-up jumper in the key to tie it at 47-47. San Clemente even managed to force another Dolphin turnover to set up a shot by Waikle that went halfway down before rimming out at the regulation buzzer.
Trailing almost from the outset of overtime, the Tritons were again running out of time, behind by a point with 38 seconds to play. That's when Hauser stole the ball in front of the Dana Hills scorekeeper, and falling out of bounds flipped the ball upcourt, ahead of a streaking Frohner, who hit the break-away layup for the lead
Then, with 16 seconds to play, Hauser again stole the ball near midcourt, this time passing the ball ahead to Waikle, who drew the defense before feeding Frohner for another layup.
Dana had one last three-point attempt off an out-of-bounds play to tie it, but it was well defended by the victorious Tritons.
Four of them scored in double figures: Butler, 13; Frohner, 12; Waikle, 11; and Hauser, 10. And three of these had double-doubles as Butler and Frohner each pulled down 11 rebounds. Hauser had 12 assists. In a game in which every point mattered, other San Clemente scoring came from Chase Gutierrez, who hit a big three-pointer to keep it close in the third quarter, and Donte Harrington, who added 2.
The Tritons host Laguna Hills at 5:30 p.m. Friday.