Greg Coombs, Santa Ana High School basketball coach, chose to look on the bright side at halftime of the Saints' Century League showdown at Foothill Wednesday night.
True, Foothill had outplayed Santa Ana during the first half, but Coombs reminded his team that it trailed by only one point, 26-25.
"I told them that Foothill had done everything they had needed to do, but still led by only one," Coombs said. "All we needed to do was pick up the tempo and wait for a run."
Santa Ana did just that, as the Saints opened the second half with a 10-2 run en route to a 51-40 victory that all but clinched their fourth league title in the last five years.
Santa Ana (20-3 overall, 7-0 in league) has a two-game lead over Foothill with three games to play.
Forward Bobby Joyce, who finished with 20 points, scored eight points during the second-half run. But it was Santa Ana's relentless pressure that caused the turnaround.
During the first half, Foothill (12-7, 5-2) had little trouble getting the ball upcourt and inside to forward Greg Rieber, who scored 10 first-half points.
Foothill built a 26-21 lead with 1:20 left in the first half. Santa Ana cut the deficit to one point on a driving layup by Scootie Lynwood, who finished with 12 points, and a rebound layup by Joyce.
Santa Ana effectively took Rieber and the rest of the Knights out of their set offense in the second half. Rieber scored Foothill's first basket in the third quarter and then went scoreless.
With the inside taken away, Foothill was unable to stay close with its outside shooting. The Knights were without their best outside shooter Rusty Van Cleave, who tore a ligament in his knee in Friday's game against Santa Ana Valley. He will likely miss the rest of the season.
Santa Ana Valley 83, Villa Park 57--Forward Steve Calhoun scored 27 points, including four three-point shots, to lead host Santa Ana Valley (12-9, 4-3). Dedric Bentley scored 15 points and had 10 assists for the Falcons. Steve Waldrip and Roger Branstine each scored 14 points for Villa Park (0-7 in league play).
Canyon 75, El Modena 66--Ralph Pacheco had a game-high 23 points for visiting Canyon. Jeff Ellis added 14 and Kevin Mahoney 10 for Canyon (9-12, 2-5). Robbie Pietch led El Modena (9-11, 3-4) with 21 points. Ramsey Rycraw added 16 for El Modena.