TUSTIN, CA - Northwood survived a late surge from San Clemente in the second Tustin Classic semifinal, beating San Clemente by a final score of 58-51. Senior guards Jacob Huynh and Devin Owens balled out for Northwood, leading the team with 21 and 19 point performances. In addition to scoring the ball, Owens locked up San Clemente on the defensive end and snatched 10 rebounds as well.
Junior guard Seth Locke handled the ball against a pressure-filled, trapping San Clemente defense, and held his own with eight points.
“It was a great win for us, they were really big and we needed to constantly move the ball to stretch them out, which is what we were able to do tonight,” he said. “Devin stepped up for us at the end, as our best defender, and got us the ball back to seal it.”
“Our transition defense was great, and we really attacked them on offense from the start,” Huynh added. “When we limit the opposition’s three pointers and get to run up and down, we’re unstoppable.”
Senior point guard Jacob Nemeth put up 17 points and was huge down the stretch for San Clemente, scoring nine in the fourth quarter. Six-foot-six stud Josh Walker finished with 11 points, adding in the nine fourth quarter as well.
Through three quarters, San Clemente had scored just 26 points, and given up 44. Northwood pressured the Tritons straight from the tip, and they could not hang onto the ball. Huynh and Owens were dominating in transition off San Clemente turnovers, and the rest of Northwood’s offense was able to break down the Tritons’ zone defense.
In a matter of possessions, however, everything changed. Locke had been slashing through the San Clemente half court defense all night, so they decided to start trapping him. Moments into the fourth quarter, Walker had scored two layups, in addition to a bucket from junior guard Mario Medrano.
Just like that, the lead was cut to 14. After a one out of two trip to the free throw line for Owens, six-foot-four senior Nick Martino nailed a three to make the score 46-35 with just over five minutes remaining. The teams traded layups for three possessions, until two made Walker free throws and two missed Northwood free throws swung some momentum in San Clemente’s favor.
The tide turned again, however, one play later when Northwood big man Trenton Harper made an electrifying block, setting up a coast-to-coast transition Owens score. San Clemente was finished off just yet, as Nemeth responded with a huge three point basket.
Forced to intentionally foul in an effort to stop the clock, San Clemente sent Huynh to the line, who calmly sinked two foul shots. Nemeth fired back again, with two more consecutive three pointers.
Trailing 53-48 with 2:12 left, the Tritons needed some Northwood missed free throws. Huynh came through in the clutch for Northwood, hitting four free throws in a row to seal the victory. The finals matchup for the Tustin Classic is set, as one-loss Los Osos will battle three-loss Northwood for the championship.