In Tuesday night's crucial South Coast League clash, the Trabuco Hills Mustangs met the El Toro Chargers.
Coming into Tuesday night, this was a must-have game for Trabuco, as a win would have secured them a spot in the CIF playoffs. But it was the Chargers who came away victorious, 60-49, in a competitive matchup. Six-foot-8 junior forward Maxx Hazely starred for El Toro with 20 points as the Chargers earned redemption for an earlier defeat.
"Earlier in the year, they came onto our home court and dominated," he said. "I feel like it's my time to really start stepping up and playing well."
For Trabuco Hills, 5-foot-10 sophomore guard Kelvin Cabrera was a big contributor off the bench, scoring 22 points. Quentin Watts also chipped in for the Mustangs, adding 12 points.
"They beat us to every 50-50 ball and dominated us in transition, as well as in offensive rebounding," Mustangs head coach Sean Sullens said. "For a majority of that game, our effort was lacking."
Trabuco Hills must forget about this loss fairly quick, as they now turn their focus to a must-win showdown against Aliso Niguel this Thursday night. Win, and the Mustangs are in the CIF playoffs.
Through the first quarter of play, both teams played pretty even, with El Toro leading 10-8 by the end of the period. El Toro came out strong in the second quarter, and went on a solid run by sharing the ball offensively and playing good team defense. With momentum leaning toward the Chargers as the second quarter winded down, Trabuco's Zach Mowers nailed a 3-pointer as time expired to give the Mustangs a boost heading into halftime, with El Toro leading 24-18.
The third quarter started out in El Toro's favor, as Trabuco initially struggled to score. However, Trabuco's Kelvin Cabrera quickly got into quite a rhythm, knocking down three straight 3-pointers to energize the Mustangs. With another Cabrera basket to start the fourth, Trabuco found themselves right back in it, down 39-37. El Toro and Maxx Hazely responded with yet another run of their own, as the Chargers built up a 51-45 advantage with just over two minutes to play. Hazely continued to dominate, using his 6-8 frame to overpower Mustang defenders, and then hit a dagger 3-point jumper to seal the victory for El Toro.