Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

Lancers advance to second round to meet Cappo Valley

A strong second half by the Sunny Hills Lancers in their first round CIF matchup against Palm Desert was just enough to get past the Aztecs 59-57.

The Aztecs heated up from beyond the arc in the first quarter to take and keep the lead while Sunny Hills struggled to put up points and keep the ball.

Palm Desert had six 3-pointers in the opening quarter of the game, including four Straight at one point in the quarter to help them go on a 12-4 run, and almost opened a double digit lead on the Lancers early on.

The Lancers struggled to match the Aztecs 3-point form early on and lost the ball on several possessions which led to more than a few points off turnovers for Palm Desert.

With the quarter winding down and the Lancers in danger of going down by double digits, two of their seniors kept the game in reach.

Two straight baskets in the paint by Senior Jacob Dibble and a late quarter 3-pointer by Senior Sam Barrera kept the Lancers within eight points of the Aztecs at the end of the quarter.

Other than a 3-point basket by Barrera to open the second quarter and a 2-pointer by Aztecs senior Dylan Ulber, both teams went scoreless until the midway mark of the second quarter.

Although the Lancers (18-12) were still hampered by turnovers in the second quarter, the Aztecs (17-10) did not capitalize off them as much as in the first quarter and their lead was cut down to five after a basket by Dibble.

In the final minutes of the half sophomore Devin Lopez drained his third 3-pointer of the game to help the Aztecs go on a 5-0 run and up by 10 with the half nearing its end.

After Dibble hit one of two free throws the half came to an end and the deficit between the teams remained at eight.

Early on in the second half the Aztecs eight point lead eroded after back-to-back 3-pointers by Barrera helped the Lancers go on a 8-2 run to cut their lead down to two.

Palm Desert attempted to regrow their lead but began to cool down from 3-point range and only converted one in the quarter.

Though not the same from beyond the arc as before, the Aztecs managed to go on a 5-0 run near the end of the quarter to go up 44-39.

Sunny Hills did not let Palm Desert end the quarter in the lead.

A basket from senior Ryan Shaw and another 3-pointer from Barrera, who led the comeback efforts in the third quarter with 11 points, tied the game going into the fourth quarter.

“I just wanted to shoot. My shots were open and I felt good shooting,” Barrera said when asked about his third quarter performance.

Sunny Hills continued its improved second half offensive form by going on a 6-0 run, partly fueled by four points from sophomore Luke Hosozawa, to start the quarter.

The Aztecs responded with a run of their, sparked by a Will Struthers 3-pointer, to cut the Lancers lead to one.

With neither team wanting their season to end, both teams were near inseparable on the scoreboard and the game remained close until the end.

After a basket by Struthers, who led the Aztecs with 17 points, the two playoff teams found themselves tied heading into the final minute of the game.

As the game clock winded down into the final 30 seconds Shaw made a drive into the paint to try to score the go ahead basket.

The Seniors close range shot missed but he was able to rebound it.

In the process of making another attempt to put the Lancers ahead late Shaw was fouled and sent to the free throw line with 17.8 seconds left.

The senior, who had eight points on the night, did not miss the go ahead opportunity this time and hit two free throws in succession to put the Lancers ahead 59-57.

After Shaws conversion and a timeout, the Aztecs decided to go for the win instead of trying to extend the game.

With the shot clock no longer a factor the Aztecs ran down the game clock before putting up an attempt for the go-ahead basket.

In what was the final shot of the game Lopez attempted a long range 3-pointer to put the Aztecs up.

The shot missed the basket completely and was instead caught by Dibble, who passed it off to a teammate.

Time expired before Palm Desert could get a foul in to stop the clock and as the final buzzer sounded the Lancers second half surge confirmed their place in the next round.

“We left it all out on the court, proud of our guys,” said Palm Desert Head Coach James Serven, who later partly attributed his teams defeat to the Lancers raised intensity in the second half.

“We came out flat, it was definitely a flat start” said Sunny Hills Head Coach Joe Ok about the start of the game, and later added when talking about his players performance in the second half that “they had to fight to try to get back into it and, then we were able to pull it out at the end,”

Sunny Hills will take on Capistrano Valley High School in the second round of the Division 2-A CIF basketball playoffs on Friday.