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Basketball: Mission Viejo in first after beating El Toro, 66-60

Diablos point guard Evan Zeller suffers an ankle injury that could affect Mission Viejo's playoff ambitions.

January 31, 2013|Eric Sondheimer

When standout point guard Evan Zeller of Mission Viejo went down because of an ankle injury with 3 minutes 3 seconds left in the third quarter on Wednesday night against El Toro, the Diablos' 11-point lead hardly looked safe.

Even after the Diablos had extended their lead to 17 points in the fourth quarter, El Toro's ability to shoot three-pointers gave the Chargers hope. Then Cody White started to bomb away, making three three-pointers. And a full-court press was producing turnovers.

Mission Viejo, however, made enough free throws in the final minute to secure a 66-60 victory to move a half-game ahead of El Toro in the race for first place in the South Coast League.

Now the Diablos (21-2, 5-1) will have to hope for the best regarding Zeller, who couldn't put any pressure on his left ankle but said he believes it isn't broken. He had 12 points before the injury and is crucial to Mission Viejo's ambitions to be a factor in the Southern Section Division 1AA playoffs.

"We'll evaluate him, get him treatment and hopefully he'll be ready to go on Friday," Coach Troy Roelen said.

El Toro (20-4, 4-1), which made a school-record 20 three-pointers in a victory against Capistrano Valley, couldn't get its long-range shooting touch going until it was too late. The Chargers made nine three-pointers over the final three quarters. White finished with 16 points and Tanner Aguera had 15.

For Mission Viejo, senior guard Darin Sutton came through as an offensive force, scoring 20 points. Max Redfield had 11 points in the second half.

"I had to take care of business," Sutton said. "One of our star players went down and we had to get the W."

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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