It took just three minutes Wednesday night for Irvine High School's basketball team to secure itself a place in school history.
Irvine went on an 11-point run in the fourth quarter to lift itself to a 57-48 victory over Mission Viejo in a South Coast League game at Mission Viejo.
The victory clinches a Southern Section playoff spot for third-place Irvine (12-12 overall, 5-4 in league), the first in the school's history.
"This is really emotional for us," said Steve Keith, in his first year as Vaquero coach. Keith coached 10 years at Glendale, where his teams won Southern Section championships in 1981 and '85. "You can't underestimate how important finally making it (to the playoffs) is to the school and to our program."
The importance didn't seem to be lost on the Vaqueros, who broke open a slim, 45-43 lead with 4:10 remaining. The Vaqueros kept possession of the ball for almost two minutes despite intensified, full-court pressure from Mission Viejo (11-12, 4-5).
Irvine capitalized at the free throw line, making 6 of 8 in the final three minutes. The Vaqueros made 14 of 22 (64%) for the game, while Mission Viejo made just 5 of 12 (41%).
Irvine guard Bryan Allred, who scored a team-high 17 points, led the final scoring drive. Allred scored eight points in the fourth quarter, six on three-point plays.
Raphael Molle, a 6-foot 5-inch center/forward, scored 15 points from the inside, 7 in the final quarter, for Irvine.
Through the first quarter, players from both teams appeared dazed as Irvine took a 10-9 lead.
Neither team played effective offense until midway through the second quarter, when Mission Viejo guard Lance Elmore came off the bench to score eight points and contribute three assists to help Mission Viejo to a 23-21 halftime lead.
"I thought the players of both teams were stagnant in the first half," Keith said. "But that's a sign of nervousness. We were tight and so were they, I think. There was a lot on the line."
El Toro 75, Dana Hills 63--Host Dana Hills led, 33-29, at halftime, but was outscored, 17-9, in the third quarter. El Toro (18-5, 7-2) was led by Eric Speaker's 22 points. Bret Johnson added 20 points, including three three-pointers, and Khari Johnson scored 18 points. Tyrone Meixsell led Dana Hills (9-14, 2-7) with 29 points.
Capistrano Valley 88, San Clemente 34--Capistrano Valley outscored San Clemente, 18-4, in the first quarter and 27-10 in the second to take a 45-14 halftime lead at San Clemente. Todd Marinovich led Capistrano Valley with a game-high 22 points; Chris Kostoff, with 12 points, Jim Waikle (13), Scott McCorkle (13) and Frank Aguilar (10) all scored in double figures for the Cougars (21-4, 9-0), the top-ranked team in the Orange County Sportswriter's Assn. poll.