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ORANGE COUNTY PREP BASKETBALL : South Coast League : Capo Valley Wins League Title, 74-64

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Capistrano Valley High School captured its fourth South Coast League title in the past six years as the Cougars defeated rival Mission Viejo, 74-64, before a sellout crowd of more than 3,000 at Saddleback College.

The Cougars finished the season tied with El Toro at 8-2 (17-8 overall) but won the league title because they beat the Chargers twice during league.

Cougar Coach Mark Thornton, whose team was picked to finish fourth by the league coaches, said: “It feels great to finally win this thing. I feel we are a pretty good playoff team and now we have the momentum as the playoffs start.”

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Both teams looked sharp from the start as Mission Viejo jumped off to an early lead (13-9) on the play of guard Todd Matthews and forward Jeff Herdman. Herdman, who hurt the Cougars with his inside play, finished with a game-high 28 points and 15 rebounds and Matthews added 23 points, mostly on pullup drives to the basket.

Capistrano Valley led by only four points at the half (32-28) but took control when forward Todd Marinovich connected on a long-range jump shot with 2:41 remaining. Marinovich was the Cougars’ leading scorer with 22 points, but center Jim Waikle was the difference as the 7-footer grabbed 10 rebounds and frequently kept the Diablos from getting a second shot.

With Irvine (5-5) losing to El Toro, 81-71, Mission Viejo (5-5, 16-11) received the final playoff spot, having beaten the Vaqueros twice during the season.

El Toro 81, Irvine 71--Bret Johnson scored 26 points and Mack Powell had 21 to lead the Chargers (8-2, 18-8) at home to the school’s first basketball league championship. El Toro, which tied for first with Capistrano Valley, led by two at the half. Eric Speaker added 17 for the Chargers. Mike Herring led Irvine (5-5 in league) with 27 points.

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