Those who overheard Westminster High School Coach Dick Katz's pregame prediction Wednesday night had reason to scoff. Katz predicted a close game between his unranked Lions and Fountain Valley, Orange County's fifth-ranked team.
"I think we're two even teams," Katz said.
But Katz's prediction wasn't even close. Westminster upset Fountain Valley, 73-48, in a Sunset League game at Westminster High School.
The Barons led, 5-2, in the game's first 45 seconds, and it was their last lead of the game. Westminster, sparked by Chris Tower's 11 first-quarter points, took a 24-15 lead into the second quarter.
Tower, the county's third-highest scorer with an average of 26.9 points, committed his third personal foul early in the period and was taken out. Fountain Valley immediately increased its tempo and brought its deficit to one (30-29) with several fast breaks and a three-point shot by point guard Tom Weaver.
But it wasn't enough. Two successful one-and-ones by Lion guards Peter Nguyen and Mark Austin and an Austin layup boosted Westminster's lead to 36-29 at the half.
"The key point in the game was the second quarter," Katz said. "If we'd lost that lead, it would have cost us the ballgame. We knew we had to beat them tonight to ever have a chance."
With Tower's return in the third quarter, Westminster's chance for success increased. Tower scored eight points from the inside, and Nguyen and Marland Love provided further boosts with two steals and fast break layups, leading the Lions to a 54-38 lead at the end of the third.
Fountain Valley's attempt to rally in the fourth was futile. Six of the Barons' fast break attempts in the first three minutes failed, and Westminster answered with 13 straight points.
Fountain Valley (13-3, 3-1) shot just 34% for the game.
"They played all facets of the game better," said Baron Coach Dave Brown. "They were just much more ready to play tonight than we were."
Five Lion players, led by Tower with 21 points, scored in double figures. Love (12 points); Austin (14 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists); Nyguen (10 points) and Eric Kutas (14 points) also contributed for Westminster (10-8, 2-2).
Weaver was the only Fountain Valley player in double figures with 12 points.
In other Sunset League games:
Marina 73, Huntington Beach 53--Steve Guild scored 20 points, had 9 rebounds and 7 assists and David Yamate scored 17 to lead the Vikings (13-5, 2-2) at Marina. Marina was 15 of 15 from the foul line, including Guild with 8 of 8. Rich Hughes (14 points), Chad Kurz (12) and Jeff Long (12) led the Oilers.
Ocean View 61, Edison 42--Craig Rice scored 16 points and Mike Frohn 15 to lead the host Seahawks (8-7, 3-1).