Mission Viejo High School outplayed Capistrano Valley in every phase of the game and made it look easy in a 75-59 South Coast League victory Tuesday night in front of a capacity crowd of 1,500 in Saddleback College at Mission Viejo.
The Diablos led from start to finish and in the process may have finished Capistrano Valley's playoff hopes. The Cougars, who have advanced to the semifinals of Southern Section playoffs for three consecutive years, must win all three of their remaining league games to qualify for the postseason tournament.
Meanwhile, Mission Viejo all but clinched its second straight league title and avenged two earlier losses to the Cougars. The Diablos are 9-1 in league play and need only a win on Friday night against El Toro to clinch the championship.
Capistrano Valley fell to 6-4 in league play and meets Laguna Hills and El Toro in its last two games. Both teams defeated the Cougars in first-round games.
"The way we played tonight, I don't know about our chances of making the playoffs," Cougar Coach Mark Thornton said. "We weren't a very well-coached team tonight and weren't ready to play."
That was obvious from the outset as Mission Viejo opened an 8-0 lead and never looked back. Mike Minier paced the Diablos with 26 points and point guard Tom Desiano added 16 points and 7 assists.
"We're in business," Diablo Coach Bob Minier said afterward. "The intensity was there and we've really come together. Now, I want to sustain that intensity into the playoffs. The last two times we played them, we had the lead going into the fourth quarter, but played conservatively and loss. We were intense for 32 minutes tonight."
The Diablos took advantage of the Cougars' suspect defense by making 26 of 40 field goal attempts but their inability to make free throws kept the game closer than it should have been. Mission Viejo was only 23-for-42 at the foul line.
Capistrano Valley shot 46% from the field and committed 30 fouls as three starters fouled out. The Cougars' frustration was best summarized when guard Nathan Call stole a pass and attempted a dunk with 29 seconds remaining that hit the heel of the rim and flew halfway to midcourt.
MISSION VIEJO (75)--Hill 8, Knowles 12, Pederson 11, Minier 26, Desiano 16, Mohan 2.
CAPISTRANO VALLEY (59)--Manley 13, Reed 6, Lukes 11, Bujnovsky 14, Call 11, Beightol 4.
In Angelus League action:
Mater Dei 90, Bishop Montgomery 50--Tom Lewis became the fifth-leading career scorer in Southern Section history with a 39-point performance in Hutton Sports Center at Chapman College. Lewis has 2,218 points in his varsity career, surpassing Joe Hillman of Glendale Hoover on the career scoring list.
The Monarchs took command early, outscoring Bishop Montgomery, 31-6, in the first quarter. Lewis was 16 of 20 from the field and had 25 points by halftime. Mater Dei had 12 of its 14 players score in running its record to 7-0 in league, 22-0 overall. P.J. Wnek led Bishop Montgomery with 15 points.
BISHOP MONTGOMERY (50)--Jordan 2, Taylor 8, Schlobohm 4, Wnek 15, Mitchell 2, Miller 9, McLaughlin 2, Burke 3, Marshall 2, Uyesto 3.
MATER DEI (90)--Lewis 39, Mitchell 16, Thomas 4, Peabody 4, Kelly 9, Dwyer 2, Mounce 2, Patton 2, Madrigal 1, Spencer 4, Joyce 2, Rembert 5.