The Mission Viejo High School girls' basketball team wasn't perfect in its first-half shooting and defensive play Thursday night; it just looked that way.
As Steve Asay, Mission Viejo coach, said, "That's the ideal first half. We didn't do anything wrong."
The second half wasn't so hot, but Mission Viejo hung on to beat El Toro, 55-49, in a South Coast League game at El Toro.
Mission Viejo (19-5 overall, 7-1 in league play) led by 19-12 at the end of the first quarter and 37-19 at halftime. The Diablos looked shaky in the second half but had a solid last two minutes to survive a furious El Toro comeback.
Mission Viejo held a 42-24 lead with 3:07 left in the third quarter but was outscored, 25-13, the rest of the way.
"Mission Viejo came out to play and we didn't," El Toro Coach Greg Yeck said. "I think we decided to play ball in the second half, but against Mission Viejo, and 18 down, you can't do it."
One bright spot for Yeck was the return of Andrea Young, a senior forward, who played her first significant game of the season. Young had a stress fracture in her leg and had not competed this season until Tuesday against San Clemente, when she played three minutes in the Chargers' 66-48 victory.
Thursday night, playing in short spurts, Young had 17 points to lead El Toro (19-5, 5-3). Still, she couldn't stem the Mission Viejo onslaught in the first half.
"We played her a lot more than we anticipated," Yeck said. "She still isn't in condition. She's only had two or three practices. We probably played her more than we wanted."
Young had the Chargers' first basket, three minutes into the game.
El Toro still is playing without Elaine Youngs, a Times All-County selection last season, who sprained her ankle when El Toro played Mission Viejo Jan. 14.
Shannon Morgan, a junior guard, got the Diablos started early. Morgan had eight points, all from the outside, in the first quarter.
Morgan had a game-high 18 points. Tricia Stringam, Mission Viejo's leading scorer, turned in a solid game rebounding and playing defense. She scored 9 points.
Tina Ranker added 13 points and helped to steady the Diablos when El Toro cut the lead down to three points with 3:14 left.
"I'd have to give credit to Jennifer Rohrig in the last four minutes," Asay said. "She cleaned the boards and played good defense."
Rohrig, a sophomore center, came off of the bench to score 10 points, including a late bank shot in the lane that kept El Toro at bay.
By the end of the third quarter, El Toro had whittled Mission Viejo's 18-point lead to 44-32. The lead shrank to 48-45 with 3:36 left on a jumper by El Toro's Lori Halliday.
But Ranker hit a jump shot, then a free throw to push the Diablo advantage to 51-45 with 2:29 to play. El Toro could get no closer than five thereafter.
Capistrano Valley 59, Dana Hills 11--Holly Anderson, a junior center, had 19 points and 10 rebounds and Heather Schoeny, a senior guard, added 14 points and 10 rebounds to lead host Capistrano Valley (16-5, 7-1). The Cougars led by 21-0 after the first quarter and 31-2 at halftime. Shelley Zierhut scored 10 points for Capistrano Valley. Cheryl Christianson, a sophomore guard, had five points for Dana Hills (0-17, 0-8).