IRVINE — So, Steve Keith, if you really are the best boys' basketball coach in Orange County as many of your peers often claim, here's a simple question: How could the team you coach, Irvine High School, look so good Friday night and so mediocre the next night?
Keith, who sat helplessly on the bench while Irvine fell to Capistrano Valley, 57-48, in the championship game of the Irvine World News Tournament at Christ College Irvine, was baffled.
"I don't know," he said. "If I did, I probably could have done something about it. I'm sure Capistrano Valley had something to do with the play we played."
Capistrano Valley (10-1) reduced the number of undefeated teams in Orange County to one by reducing Irvine's complicated motion offense.
Irvine (9-1) fell from the ranks of the unbeaten--Western (8-0) is the only one left in the county--by falling behind, 23-9, in the first quarter and never recovering. Irvine did make one run, cutting a 15-point deficit to four points with 2:22 remaining.
But Capistrano Valley's Jose Salvatierra made a basket and four free throws down the stretch to hold off Irvine. In the end, Capistrano Valley had more shooters and was a little quicker than its South Coast League rival.
"They're still quicker and that's our Achilles' heel . . . quickness," Keith said.
Capistrano Valley wasn't perfect by any means. Guard Tom Airey helped the Cougars open a big lead in the first half by making four consecutive three-point shots, only to see a series of turnovers reduce the lead to eight points at halftime.
"They put some pressure on us and we didn't react real well to it," said Capistrano Valley Coach Mark Thornton. "But we shoot well as a team and I don't think you can beat us by shutting down one player."
Capistrano Valley managed to contain Irvine's high-scoring forward, John Molle, limiting him to 22 points, 11 below his season average. Irvine was coming off an impressive 59-50 victory over Marina in which Molle scored 23 points in the first half.
In the third-place game:
Marina 82, Woodbridge 60--Center Cherokee Parks made 17 of 25 shots and finished with 38 points for Marina (7-4). He also had 12 rebounds and blocked three shots. Parks had 23 points at halftime as Marina built a 44-28 lead and was never threatened by Woodbridge (6-4).
Edison 90, University 76--Brandon Jessie scored 32 points, John Khamis 22 and Todd Smyser 18 to lead Edison (7-2) in the fifth-place game. Luis Venegas scored 20 for University.
Corona del Mar 53, Mission Viejo 32--John Upham scored 17 points and Doug Hesse 14 to lead Corona del Mar (4-7) in the seventh-place game.
Santa Ana 65, Kennedy 57--Santa Ana outscored Kennedy, 39-28, in the second half to win a consolation game. Chauncey Woolridge scored 32 points for Santa Ana (5-4) and Jermaine Galloway had 31 points and 16 rebounds for Kennedy (2-5).
Esperanza 59, Savanna 56--Joe Foss scored 27 points and Esperanza took advantage of four late Savanna turnovers in a consolation game. Andy Trumpour scored 21 points for Savanna.