The sports teams from Los Alamitos have displayed a certain style this year. It partly consists of a celebration of speed, a willingness to take risks, a flair for the flamboyant play.
Those qualities showed on the football field, where the Griffins were league co-champions.
Lately they have shown on the basketball court, where the Griffins (15-5, 9-2) solidified their claim to a playoff berth by beating Cypress, 83-69, Wednesday at Los Alamitos. They remain tied for second place with El Dorado, one game behind Katella.
Playing the sort of basketball the Griffins aspire to requires a split-second harmony between five players, and that delicate accord tends to take a couple quarters to develop in most games.
Like a fancy multi-valve European sports coupe, the Griffins run better after they've warmed up. That was the case Wednesday when the game was virtually even in the first half, but Los Alamitos unwound and raced away in the second half.
Both teams shot effectively in the first half, but the Griffins' Mo Warner, a 6-5 forward, was 6-for-6 from the field. Meanwhile, Chris Anderson, a 6-9 center, came off the bench with 11 first-half points.
Los Alamitos made 17 of 27 first-half shots, but that was just a teaser for the second half when it made 16 of 24 for a combined 65%.
Cypress stayed in the thick of it, despite the absence of 6-8 center Chris Yoxtheimer, who checked into La Palma hospital Monday to have a metal plate from a year-old injury removed from his leg.
A 6-5 junior, Frantz Reyes, helped fill the vacancy in the middle, finishing with 9 rebounds and 14 points, while Al Aguirre, perhaps better known as the football team's tight end, also had 14 points.
But their most significant production was in the first half, which ended with the Griffins leading 36-33.
In the second half, Cypress appeared to fall victim to Murphy's Law.
Or maybe it was just the law of averages, which predicts that a series of missed shots, turnovers and a defense-turned-porous will eventually produce a downfall against an explosive opponent.
Reyes scored the first basket of the half, but it was the last for the Centurions for the next five minutes. Los Alamitos found its stride and outscored them 16-2 for a 52-35 lead with three minutes left in the third quarter.
The Griffin style asserted itself it was in the form of guard J.T. Snow, who had been nearly invisible in the first half. He suddenly loomed larger-than-life in the first minutes of the second half when Los Alamitos started polishing the boards and hurling jazzy passes downcourt.
Snow swooped in with two lay-ups off the fast break, and converted each into a three-point play after being fouled. Anderson and Gary Loe each scored, and Snow poured in two more baskets before Cypress could respond.
Some nice shooting by Centurion guard Mike Cote (15 points) allowed Cypress to pose a bit of fourth-quarter challenge, pulling to within five points at 63-58.
But it was too late. By then, the Griffin machine was running up and down the court, and flipping alley-oop back door passes to guard Matt Treece, who scored two surprise layups on the weak side of the Cypress defense.
The loss leaves the Centurions (6-4, 9-10) with little chance of making the playoffs. Cypress would have to upset El Dorado for the second time this season and hope that Los Alamitos could also beat the Golden Hawks.
CYPRESS (69)--Civitelli 4, Weaver 10, Cote 15, Reese 1, Kawamura 11, Reyes 14, Aguirre 14.
LOS ALAMITOS (83)--Snow 18, Schmitz 4, Treece 6, Warner 16, Blossey 17, Loe 7, Bowen 2, Anderson 13.
Katella 67, Kennedy 47--The Irish held a 30-25 halftime lead but the Knights (10-1) outscored them, 42-17, in the second half. Katella's Bob Erbst led all scorers with 30 points to go with his 13 rebounds, and Richard Lucas scored 17 points and had 12 rebounds. Michael Keith and Darrin Queen of Kennedy (4-7, 8-11) had 12 points each. Keith had 10 rebounds and Queen had 11. The Knights made 19 of 26 free throws; Kennedy made only 6 of 15, including five misses in the fourth quarter.
KATELLA (67)--Sunu 6, Anderson 4, Lucas 17, Erbst 30, Petrakis 8, Boberg 2.
KENNEDY (47)--Keith 12, Queen 12, Mares 11, Curry 10, Harding 2.
El Dorado 87, Loara 53--The Golden Hawks (9-2, 17-4) put the game out of reach by outscoring the Saxons by 26 points in the first quarter at El Dorado. Jim Sammon led the Hawks with 28 points and sophomore forward Charlie Stevens added 15. Gary Miller of Loara (0-10, 0-17) scored 20 points.
LOARA (53)--Miller 20, Clester 10, Trujillo 4, Padilla 15, Weichen 4.
EL DORADO (87)--Sammon 28, Byers 5, Bailey 12, Krapf 7, Glade 8, Stevens 15, Pierce 7, Cardenas 5.