It figures to be a difficult week for Dana Hills High School. The Dolphins play South Coast League leaders Mission Viejo, Capistrano Valley and El Toro in five days. Once the games are over, the players won't get much sleep studying for final examinations the next day.
The week got off to a less-than-spectacular start Monday as the Dolphins were hammered, 66-40, by Mission Viejo in a game that was close for one quarter. The loss dropped the Dolphins (4-3 in league, 12-5 overall) out of a tie for second place and suddenly the Southern Division playoffs don't look so promising.
"If we can win two of three games, we'll stay in contention for the league championship," Dolphin Coach Steve Thornton said before tipoff. "If we win one of three, we'll be in good shape for the playoffs."
But the Dolphin weaknesses--lack of depth, inside defense and rebounding--were exposed against a physically stronger Mission Viejo team, which kept its grip on first place in the league with a 6-1 record, 17-4 overall. The Diablos repeatedly made high-percentage shots, hitting 17 of 28 shots, in the first half, then dictated the tempo in the second half.
Mission Viejo led 32-20 at halftime. The teams were tied, 12-12, when the Diablos scored 12 unanswered points to take control. The Diablos worked patiently, then made Dana Hills work for its shots.
"Pressure, pressure, pressure . . . that's what we want defensively," Diablo Coach Bob Minier said. "We didn't make many steals or force that many turnovers, but we made them work for their shots. They were tired because they had to work so hard for their shots and consequently we got a lot of high-percentage shots when they went back on defense."
Forwards Mike Minier and Tim Knowles led a balanced Diablo attack with 16 and 14 points. The duo, combined with rugged David Hill, proved too much to handle for Dana Hills' Stanford-bound forward Bryan McSweeney.
McSweeney scored 14 points and had 10 rebounds but had little help from his teammates. He faded after the first quarter. The Dolphins scored only 14 points in the second and third quarters.
"Mission generally lets you stay in the game with a slow tempo until they decide to beat you," Thornton said.
On this night, the Diablos decided to squash the Dolphins early, then demoralize them down the stretch.
But the victory did not leave Minier overconfident.
"I expect the race for the league title to come down to the last game," he said. "The only break we'll get the rest of the season is Wednesday night when we have a bye, and I get to watch somebody else play."
DANA HILLS (40)--Lyon 2, Mathieu 4, McSweeney 14, Esteban 4, Jeffers 11, Martel 3, Cadmus 2.
MISSION VIEJO (66)--Minier 16, Hill 10, Pedersen 6, Desiano 10, Knowles 14, Herdman 4, Mohan 2, Hampton 4.
In other South Coast League action:
Capistrano Valley 98, San Clemente 62--Forward Tom Manley scored 26 points and guard Nathan Call and Greg Bujnovsky added 14 apiece as the Cougars routed the Tritons at San Clemente. By winning, seventh-ranked Capistrano Valley (5-2 in league and 16-4 overall) remained in a second-place tie with El Toro, one game behind Mission Viejo.
CAPISTRANO VALLEY (98)--Call 14, Bujnovsky 14, Lukes 8, Reed 8, Manley 26, Stark 6, Burnett 9, Beightol 4, Romine 1, Aguilar 4, Waikle 2.
SAN CLEMENTE (62)--Wade 19, Villanueva 25, Love 4, Greenberg 2, McGraw 2, Ciezadlo 6, Koepsell 4.
El Toro 82, Irvine 65--The Chargers outscored Irvine, 28-15, from the free throw line and defeated the host Vaqueros. El Toro (5-2, 10-9) was led by guard Tim McLain (20 points), guard Jeff Stone (19) and forward Kelly Moynihan (16). Irvine (0-7, 6-13) was led by center Tom Patchell, who scored 16.
EL TORO (82)--McLain 20, Stone 19, Shockey 12, Moynihan 16, Kunsaitis 2, Reale 1, Markett 5, Johnson 7.
IRVINE (65)--Patchell 16, Tamura 8, Herring 10, Raye 9, Schulz 4, Murphy 1, Trout 8, Snoddy 8.
In Century League action:
Canyon 68, Villa Park 54--In a game rescheduled for Monday night after a power failure in the Canyon gym Friday, the Comanches routed the Spartans. Canyon (3-4 in league and 8-9 overall) built a 37-20 halftime lead and played its substitutes during much of the second half. Forward Chris Rippe led Canyon with 17 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals.
VILLA PARK (54)--Ayres 6, Dufault 12, Hertel 4, Jacobs 6, Koob 10, Christiansen 4, Steenslend 4, Russo 2, Smith 4, Kosca 2.
CANYON (68)--Rippe 17, Spencer 15, Lopez 3, Steine 14, Ream 8, Garcia 2, Phillips 2, James 1, Salcedo 6.