Empire League : El Dorado Goes OT in Win, 69-64

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Times Staff Writer

When will El Dorado High School ever learn? The Golden Hawks, one of Orange County’s best fast-breaking teams, nearly blew another key Empire League game Wednesday night by going into a four-corner offense in the final minutes of play.

The Golden Hawks held a 10-point lead with 6:05 left to play and were still ahead by seven points with four minutes remaining when Coach Terry Conley put the brakes on his offensive-minded team with the delay tactics.

Katella managed to catch El Dorado and send the game into overtime, but the Golden Hawks pulled out a 69-64 win to claim sole possession of second place in the eight-team league with five games remaining. El Dorado is 7-2 in league play and 16-3 overall.


Last week, El Dorado blew a five-point lead with 2:52 left to play against Kennedy and lost to the Irish, 74-72, by utilizing the same stall. The loss cost the Golden Hawks their share of the league lead.

This time, Katella guard Steve Bennett nearly pulled out a win for the Knights. Bennett scored 10 of his team’s 16 points in the final quarter, including the basket that sent the game into overtime with two seconds remaining in regulation.

It looked as if the Golden Hawks had the game wrapped up when Damon Cooke made two free throws with 11 seconds remaining to push El Dorado in front, 63-61. But Bennett took the inbound pass and drove the length of the court, stumbling a bit through the lane along the way to a layup that tied the score, 63-63.

But it was all El Dorado in the three-minute overtime as Bart Hakeman scored on the Golden Hawks’ first two possessions for a quick 67-63 lead and Katella never recovered. The loss snapped the Knights’ nine-game winning streak and dropped them into a third-place tie with Los Alamitos at 6-3. The Knights are 14-4 for the season.

The game was exciting, well-played and close from start to finish. El Dorado led at halftime, 36-34, thanks to a fallaway jump shot by Jim Sammon with two seconds left. Cooke gave the Golden Hawks a nice cushion, 55-47, with 1:44 left to play in the third quarter when he made two free throws and then El Dorado appeared to be in command going into the final period with an eight-point lead.

But the Golden Hawks’ game-delaying strategy nearly became a delay-of-victory ploy. El Dorado lost its offensive rhythm and shot a miserable 1 of 12 from the field. The poor shooting resulted in an eight-point quarter and was the chance Katella was looking for to get back into the game.


Afterward, Conley defended the delay tactics and credited Katella’s defense was the sudden turnaround.

“We were stalling out front and we were supposed to take the ball inside,” he said. “We let them get back into the game by missing a couple of nice layups inside. The delay was working, we just missed some easy shots that we worked hard to get.

“Give Katella the credit. They didn’t give up when they were down by 10 points. We broke down against their full-court press, but we came back. My players didn’t fold, either. They’re gutsy kids.”

KATELLA (64)--Erbst 14, Linker 13, Donnelly 4, Yourstone 12, Bennett 21.

EL DORADO (69)--Sammon 11, Cooke 14, Mansfield 11, Hakeman 17, Ramos 9, Kraph 2, Walker 5.

In other Empire League action:

Los Alamitos 64, Esperanza 62 (OT)--Reserve guard Tod Jorgensen scored all four of his points in overtime to lead the Griffins (6-3, 9-9). Senior center Paul Crandall led all scorers with 23 points and also had 11 rebounds. Guard J.T. Snow had 15 points, including a free throw in overtime, and 7 assists. Ron Ziuraitis had 19 points for the Aztecs (3-6, 7-10).

ESPERANZA (62)--Dragonette 10, Anthony 7, Sheets 12, Webb 9, Ziuraitis 19, Eaures 4, Harvey 6.

LOS ALAMITOS (64)--Crandall 23, Irvin 10, Woods 3, Snow 15, Goodman 8, Jorgensen 4.

Kennedy 68, Cypress 65--Forward Jeff Green scored 29 points to keep the Irish in first place with an 8-1 record. The Irish held a 10-point lead in the last quarter but Cypress rallied and cut the lead to 67-64 with two seconds remaining.


Mike Kote made the first free throw to cut the deficit to two points and then intentionally missed the second shot and grabbed the rebound. But the officials ruled that Kote stepped over the line early for a lane violation and gave Kennedy the ball. The Irish made a final free throw to clinch the win.

CYPRESS (65)--Hopkins 2, Civitelli 6, Bausch 22, Kote 13, Krivashei 18, Bumgarner 2, Vreugdenhil 2.

KENNEDY (68)--Queen 8, Clark 2, Faddoul 3, Lauderdale 13, Delante 10, Bissell 1, Davidson 2, Green 29.

Loara 47, Pacifica 42--Senior guard Brian Shinoda scored 13 points and junior forward John Parker added 12 to lead the Saxons (3-6, 7-10).

LOARA (47)--Shinoda 13, Parker 12, West 8, Clester 2, Miller 9, Porreca 3.

PACIFICA (42)--Brown 2, Tejeda 2, Brodowski 9, Hall 3, Shelton 2, Brodt 21, Short 4.