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Diablos stifle the Vikings

Valencia misses crucial free-throw in close loss to Mission Viejo

Posted: February 19, 2010 10:32 p.m.
Updated: February 20, 2010 4:30 a.m.
 

Suffocated by a devil of a defense all game, Valencia swingman Lonnie Jackson attacked the teeth of it and drew a foul with five seconds left on Friday night.

Down two points to Mission Viejo at Valencia High in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division IA playoffs, Jackson drew a foul, forcing a one-and-one at the free-throw line.

On his first attempt, he left it short and Mission Viejo rebounded, effectively swinging a close game to Mission Viejo’s favor for good.

Valencia lost 52-50 to the Diablos.

“Since the jump ball, I had a guy in my face two inches from me, breathing on me,” Jackson said.

He was double-teamed as soon as he touched the ball.

But on the last possession, he grabbed a rebound and charged to the basket, drawing the foul.

“I feel bad,” Jackson said about missing the free throw. “I feel like I let my seniors down.”

But Jackson wasn’t alone in struggle.

The Vikings (22-5) made one field goal in the fourth quarter, missing 12 shots.

They were tied with Mission Viejo going into the fourth at 43-43 and kept trying to pry the door open.

Valencia had one lead in the period, when Zach Davis opened the frame with a layup that gave Valencia a 45-43 advantage.

But the Diablos’ biggest shot came from James Cramer, who nailed a 3-pointer with 3:10 to play.

It was the last field goal made in the frame and gave Mission Viejo a 52-49 lead.

Three-pointers were the story for Mission Viejo (24-4) throughout the game.

Cramer hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter, as the Diablos took an early 17-12 lead after a period.

He led Mission Viejo with 16 points.

The Diablos hit nine 3-pointers in the contest, but Valencia would not let Mission Viejo run away with the game.

As the defense collapsed on Jackson, the Vikings were finding ways to score — just not enough.

Davis scored seven of his nine points in the second quarter, as the Vikings closed the gap to one by halftime at 33-32 Mission Viejo.

Brandon Bennett, Jackson and Jake Kelfer all hit threes in the third quarter — Bennett’s giving the Vikings their biggest lead of the game at 38-33.

But Mission Viejo would not go away, as Evan Zeller, who also scored 16 points, hit a pair of threes in the third.

With the game tight early in the fourth, Valencia had possession inside the paint when the referees stopped play as Mission Viejo center Isaac Neilsen rolled his ankle on the other end of the court.

The Valencia side erupted in disgust.

“We had a chance to score, it’s five-on-four,” said Valencia head coach Rocket Collins. “(The referee) should have called it when it happened.”

But the major difference late was Mission Viejo was able to manufacture points.

The Diablos hit 4-of-9 field goals in the final frame.

They were also able to win, despite season-leading scorer Ben Hayes’ 1-for-12 night.

“We found ways to win,” said Mission Viejo head coach Troy Roelen. “We did a good job containing Lonnie, and to his credit, he’s very unselfish. He has a high basketball IQ.”

Jackson was 5-of-18 in the game with 16 points.

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