MISSION VIEJO, CA- Six-foot-two Trabuco Hills senior Quentin Watts sprinted back in transition after Dana Hills stole the ball from guard Connor Haskell, skied toward the rim, and pinned the ball on the backboard, blocking a layup attempt to energize the Mustangs at the end of the first half. Defense proved to be the story throughout the game, and especially late, as Trabuco held Dana Hills scoreless down the stretch to seal a 54-47 victory.
“The final score wasn’t indicative of how close the game was, they really battled and pushed us,” Trabuco Hills head coach Sean Sullens said. “We played solid defense down the stretch and started making some free throws to seal the victory.”
Chase Anderson led Trabuco (13-3) with 15 points, while Watts contributed 10, and junior center Vinny Zingales added eight.
Anderson scored nine of his 15 points on the free throw line, as Dana Hills (10-5) scouted and aimed to shut down his three point shot. “They weren’t giving me a lot from the outside, so I needed to create off the dribble and get into the teeth of the defense, to draw fouls. Nothing was easy tonight.”
Senior guard Devin Garland guided Dana Hills with 22 points, including seven in the first quarter to lead the Dolphins early. Six-foot-four wing Ben Carr finished with 10 points, and converted on a big and-one bucket to start fourth quarter scoring for Dana.
Tied at 46 with just over two minutes remaining, Anderson missed a field goal attempt for Trabuco, but Zingales followed with a huge bucket inside the paint. Dana Hills failed to score on the other end, leading to a Kelvin Cabrera made layup to give Trabuco a four point lead late.
Trabuco held a 35-32 leading into the final moments of the third quarter, and two made free throws from Watts extended their advantage to five. As time expired in the quarter, however, Carr scooped up a missed three pointer and put it back up to beat the buzzer, making the score 37-34 Mustangs.
The game tied at 12 a piece as time winded down in the first quarter, Anderson drove, was blocked, recovered the ball and nailed a midrange fadeaway at the buzzer to give Trabuco momentum heading into the second.
“Going forward, we need to start every game strong, instead of playing down to our competition sometimes,” Anderson said. The Mustangs have won four straight and will play two more non-conference games, against Beckman and San Juan Hills, before starting league play January 10th at El Toro.