Dre Lamoureaux, Los Alamitos High School's 6-foot 9-inch, 230-pound center, was trying his best to contain his emotions after he scored on a rousing dunk with a minute left Friday night.
Finally, Lamoureaux broke into a smile as wide as the talent gap between Los Alamitos and the rest of the field in the Empire League as the partisan crowd gave him a standing ovation.
Lamoureaux's dunk signaled the end of the Griffins' 74-49 victory over El Dorado Friday night in what was supposed to be a battle for first place. Instead, Los Alamitos is turning the race for the title into a runaway.
Los Alamitos (15-6, 6-0) outscored El Dorado, 46-25, in the second half to turn a close game into a rout. Lamoureaux scored 20 of his game-high 28 points in the second half and didn't miss a shot until only 2:38 was left.
El Dorado (11-7, 4-2) maintained a lead throughout most of the first half. The Golden Hawks outhustled Los Alamitos and did a good job of getting the ball to the open man. But the Griffins took the lead for good, 26-24, with 2:30 remaining in the half when guard Brett Pagett scored on a three-point shot.
Los Alamitos opened an 11-point lead in the third quarter and then put the Hawks away with a 30-point explosion in the final quarter. Steve Brooks, Los Alamitos coach, said his team turned the game around after a lengthy halftime talk.
"I thought we were lethargic in the first half," Brooks said. "We were getting outhustled and rushing our shots. We showed more patience in the second half and played hard.
"Dre played very well, but I wouldn't say this was his best game of the year. He's had some outstanding games for us. He's getting more consistent every game."
Lamoureaux made 14 of 17 field goal attempts with the majority of his shots assisted by passes from Pagett and Brian Parkinson.
"We have a hard time matching up with him," said Wayne Carlson, El Dorado coach. "We made a good run at them in the third quarter, but they went in to Lamoureaux four or five times and boom, boom, boom, he scored every time."
The Hawks' suffered a big setback early when guard Chris Facione and center Matt Luke each drew three fouls with six minutes remaining and went to the bench. Facione scored nine points in the first quarter, was shutout in the second and added 10 more points in the third quarter.
"The early fouls really hurt us," Carlson said. "We've got four games left to play, and we need to win three to make the playoffs. Los Alamitos is the class of the league, but then it's wide open."
Esperanza 70, Katella 67--Katella's chances of reaching the Southern Section playoffs for the 22nd consecutive season are slim after the Knights lost to Esperanza for the second time this season. The victory marked the first time Esperanza has beaten Katella twice in one season.