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Scrappy Play Enables OCC to Take Charge

February 15, 1996|STEVE KRESAL

The success Orange Coast is enjoying this season is what Coach Tim O'Brien figured on when he took the job.

The host Pirates took over sole possession of third place in the Orange Empire Conference men's basketball race with a 102-81 victory over Rancho Santiago Wednesday.

Orange Coast needs to beat Fullerton, which is winless in conference, Friday to clinch third place and an automatic playoff berth.

"I thought we were the better team from beginning to end tonight," O'Brien said.

He couldn't make such statements very often during his first three seasons in which OCC never won more than 12 games or finished higher than sixth.

But this season, OCC (17-13, 8-5) has constantly displayed a lot of heart and a deep bench. The Pirates have lost two starters to foot injuries and three games for using an ineligible player.

"This is very satisfying," O'Brien said. "We've overcome a lot of things."

Rancho Santiago (19-11, 7-6) and Orange Coast began Wednesday's game tied for third.

But OCC showed more desire, constantly winning battles for loose balls and preventing the Dons from getting the ball inside for easy baskets.

OCC led, 50-40, at the break and continued the intense play in the second half.

Rancho Santiago's only serious run came when OCC guards Adrian Reyes and Draper Mitchell each got their fourth foul and went to the bench with about 12 minutes to play.

Rancho Santiago got as close as five, 71-66, on a dunk by Ramon Alliman, with seven minutes left.

OCC then went on a 12-0 run to open an 83-66 lead with 4:45 left.

OCC had six players in double figures led by Matt Ambrose, who had 24. Darnell Adamson and Duane Curtis had 16 each, David Downs added 15 and Reyes and Mitchell had 14 apiece.

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