Depending on whom you talked to, Tustin High School's 69-58 Sea View League victory over Saddleback was either big, really big, or, according to Coach Tom McCloskey, "huge."
It was big/huge because the victory came at Saddleback and against the No. 4 team in the county, according to the Orange County Sportswriters Assn. poll.
"Any win on the road in this league is big," McCloskey said. "But to beat this team here, it's a huge win for us."
Of course, Tustin (15-3, 3-0) is no slouch. The Tillers are ranked No. 8 in the same poll and feature a player of animated talent by the name of Leo Parker.
"This was big for us, really big," Parker said. "All I've heard the past week is Saddleback this and Saddleback that. We showed them we could play tonight."
Parker, Tustin's 6-foot 6-inch center, scored 24 points and had 8 rebounds. He scored in every which way. He hit turnaround jump shots and power moves to the basket. In one short span in the fourth quarter, he drove the length of the court for a gliding layup, and, 20 seconds later, made a double-clutch hanging layup.
In between shots, Parker busied himself with patting referees, teammates and opponents on the behind, laughing and congratulating Saddleback's Craig Marshall when he blocked one of Parker's shots.
"I like to do as much as I can," Parker said. "I'd like to play point guard, but Coach won't let me."
Parker did have three assists.
Helping Parker all the way was forward Brad Cantrell, who scored 18 points and had a team-high 11 rebounds. When Saddleback drew within two points (40-38) midway through the third quarter, Cantrell made three straight three-point shots to lead a Tustin spurt that saw the Tillers take a 48-38 lead by the end of the quarter.
"That was Brad's best game of the year," McCloskey said.
Saddleback (12-5, 2-1) was led, as usual, by Gylan Dottin, who had 17 points. The Roadrunners were hampered by a poor shooting night. Saddleback made just 4 of 12 shots in the first quarter and trailed by three (13-10).
Attempting to get back in the game in the fourth quarter, Saddleback took some ill-advised shots, many from three-point range. The Roadrunners made just 6 of 17 shots in the quarter.
Corona del Mar 51, Estancia 42--Geoff Probst scored 17 points and Matt Cwiertnia 16 to lead the host Sea Kings (10-7, 1-2). Mike Curtis scored 11 points for the Eagles (12-8, 1-2).
University 52, Newport Harbor 51--Steve Stolzoff hit a 17-foot jump shot with 51 seconds left for the Trojans (7-9, 1-2) at Newport Harbor. Stolzoff finished with 20 points and Dave Warren scored 16. Mike Hardin had 17 points for the Sailors (13-6, 1-2).