It's a scene Capistrano Valley High School basketball Coach Mark Thornton is becoming all too familiar with.
His Cougars lead by a point in the final seconds, but the opponent comes up with the big play in the end to pull out the victory.
It happened last week when Laguna Hills' Greg Halliday picked up a loose ball and sank a short jumper to give the Hawks a one-point win over Capistrano Valley. It happened again Friday night against El Toro.
Tim McLain missed a double-pump jumper with five seconds remaining, but teammate Jeff Stone tipped in the rebound with three seconds left to give the Chargers a 69-68 South Coast League victory in front of an estimated 2,000 fans in El Toro's gym.
The loss drops the Cougars (4-2) into a three-way tie for second place with El Toro and Dana Hills. League-leading Mission Viejo, which beat San Clemente Friday night, is 5-1.
Scott Shockey led the winners with a game-high 24 points, Kelly Moynihan added 12 and Stone and Chuck Kunsaitis each finished with 11. Shockey fouled out after hitting a jumper with 30 seconds left to bring the Chargers within one point of the Cougars, 68-67.
Capistrano Valley's Shawn Reed missed the front end of a one-and-one with 15 seconds remaining and that gave El Toro a chance to score the winning basket. The Chargers normally look to Shockey, their leading scorer, in this situation, but the senior could only watch from the bench.
El Toro worked the ball to McLain, who was surrounded by three defenders when he put up his shot from the left side of the free-throw line. But Stone found an open lane to the basket on the right side and tipped in the miss.
"We just ran our basic zone offense," El Toro Coach Tim Travers said. "Jeff made a great play on the weak-side boards."
South Coast League League Overall School W L W L Mission Viejo 5 1 16 4 Capistrano Valley 4 2 15 4 Dana Hills 4 2 12 4 El Toro 4 2 9 9 Laguna Hills 2 4 10 9 San Clemente 2 4 6 10 Irvine 0 6 6 12 Forward Tom Manley scored 24 points for the Cougars, including 15 in the second period when he made all seven of his shots from the floor and a free throw. Guard Gregg Bujnovsky added 18 points, 10 in the third quarter, and Nathan Call finished with 14.
Had it not been for the two last-second losses, Capistrano Valley would be undefeated in league. But it wouldn't be fair to say the Cougars can't win the close ones.
They actually lost this one late in the third period, when El Toro scored seven points in a 40-second span to cut Capistrano Valley's lead to 56-54.
The Cougars were ahead, 56-49, with about 30 seconds left, and were stalling for the last shot. But Stone stole the ball from Capistrano Valley guard Todd Beightol near midcourt, drove to the basket and was fouled.
Stone made the first free throw and missed the second, but Cougar forward Reid Lukes was called for a foul on the rebound and Moynihan made the first shot in the bonus situation.
Kunsaitis, however, grabbed the rebound, scored, and was fouled by Jason Trask. He converted the three-point play with one second left in the quarter to bring El Toro within two.
"We had a different group of kids in the game at the end of the third period, and they didn't run the last-shot offense we normally run," Thornton said. "They were confused. (Starters) Manley and Call were on the bench, and they made a run at us. Maybe I shouldn't save my guys for the end of the game."
El Toro took the lead, 58-56, after scoring the first four points of the fourth quarter. The Chargers held on until Manley scored from inside with four minutes left to put the Cougars ahead, 64-63. Manley fouled out of the game with 2:09 remaining.
Shockey, who missed his first five shots from the floor, but found the range in the second quarter to score nine points, hit a jumper to put El Toro in front. But Reed responded on the other end to give the Cougars the lead, 66-65.
Capistrano Valley appeared to have control after Call scored with 1:10 left to give the Cougars a three-point lead. But Call turned the ball over on a break, and the Chargers capitalized with another Shockey jumper.
CAPISTRANO VALLEY (68)--Call 14, Bujnovsky 18, Reed 6, Manley 23, Lukes 7.
EL TORO (69)--McLain 8, Shockey 24, Moynihan 12, Kunsaitis 11, Stone 11, Myers 3.
Capistrano Valley 17 23 16 12 -- 68
El Toro 13 18 23 15 -- 69
In other South Coast League action:
Mission Viejo 59, San Clemente 41--The seventh-ranked Diablos (5-1 in league and 16-4 overall) moved into first place by beating the Tritons at Mission Viejo. Center Tim Knowles and forward David Hill both had 12 points and 11 rebounds for Mission Viejo. San Clemente's 6-6 center, Tony Villanueva, led all scorers with 20 points.
SAN CLEMENTE (41)--Wade 13, Villanueva 20, Thomas 2, Greenbuss 2, Reese 4.
MISSION VIEJO (59)--Desiano 9, Minier 9, Knowles 12, Pedersen 8, Mohan 2, Hill 12, Brucato 1, Heardman 4, Yancey 2.
San Clemente 9 12 8 12 -- 41
Mission Viejo 16 13 14 16 -- 59
Laguna Hills 74, Irvine 63--The Hawks outscored the Vaqueros, 22-5, in the second quarter and that was the difference in the game played at Irvine. Laguna Hills improved its league record to 2-4 and overall record to 10-9. Irvine is 0-6 and 6-12.
Center Brian Seiling of Laguna Hills led all scorers with 23 points and teammate Greg Halliday added 18. Mike Herring led Irvine with 18 and Scott Tamura had 15.
LAGUNA HILLS (74)--Garcia 11, Seiling 23, Conradt 6, Ringler 9, Halliday 18, Rahe 6, Parker 1.
IRVINE (63)--Patchell 10, Tamura 15, Herring 18, Moceri 2, Raye 5, Murphy 2, Trout 9, Snoddy 2.
Laguna Hills 18 22 19 15 -- 74
Irvine 16 5 15 27 -- 63