ORANGE COUNTY PREP BASKETBALL : Garden Grove League : Bolsa Grande’s Cao Makes It Count

Times Staff Writer

For 47 minutes Wednesday night, Bolsa Grande High School’s Nam Cao had been frustrated by a La Quinta diamond-and-one defense aimed at shutting him down. But with eight seconds left in the game, Cao intercepted an inbounds pass and drove the length of the court to score the winning basket.

Cao was fouled on the drive and converted a free throw to clinch the victory, 67-64, for the Matadors (7-0, 13-5), giving Bolsa Grande a two-game lead with three Garden Grove League games left.

“It was pretty hard because they denied me the ball the whole game,” said Cao, who scored 21 points in the Matadors’ 75-54 victory against the Aztecs (5-2, 11-9) three weeks ago but was held to 11 points this time. “In the end I just got lucky. I saw the ball, grabbed it and just took off. I can’t believe it.”

La Quinta had led from the middle of the first quarter, by as many as 11 points, until Bolsa Grande tied it, 59-59, on a fast-break basket by Cao with 3:20 to play. The Matadors tied the score again at 64-64 with 38 seconds left on two free throws by Joe Small, who scored 19 points to lead Bolsa Grande.


Then La Quinta, which called time out with eight seconds left, gave the ball to Scott Campbell to take out near midcourt. But guard Kenny Bennett slipped as Campbell tried to inbound the ball to him and Cao stole it for the score.

“I don’t know if our guy tripped or slipped,” said Jim Perry, La Quinta coach. “I know the referees would never call a foul in that situation. I looked up and he was on the ground and Cao was going the other way.”

Tony Lipold, Bolsa Grande coach, said the game probably should have never been that close. “There were some holes in their defense, but my kids missed some easy shots,” said Lipold, whose team made just 11 of 29 first-half shots (27%). “All of their shots were falling in. For us to win with them getting all the breaks, that’s awesome.”

Brian Joe, La Quinta’s 6-foot 10-inch center, led all scorers with 23 points, most coming from inside the key.


Los Amigos 77, Santiago 60--Gene Altamirano scored 31 points to lead the Lobos (4-3, 13-9) at Santiago. Dave Leonard added 12 points and Mike McGee 11 for Los Amigos. Peter Avila led Santiago (0-7, 3-15) with 15 points. Edwin Lezama scored 11 and Hao Dinh 10.

Rancho Alamitos 71, Garden Grove 59--Randy Morales scored 21 and made 9 assists and Craig Paquette had 19 points and 13 steals to lead Rancho Alamitos at home. Henry Fournier and Greg Lorenz each scored 12 to lead Garden Grove, which dropped to 2-5 in league. Rancho Alamitos improved to 3-4 and 9-10.