Orange Holiday Basketball Tournament : Unlikely Hero Leads the Way for Saddleback : Simon’s Clutch Shooting Pays Off in 57-53 Victory
Sean Simon, Saddleback High School’s 5-foot 7-inch guard, looks like anything but a basketball player.
Simon, who wears oversized horn-rimmed glasses, appears more suited for a science lab than a basketball court.
But Simon made his presence felt Thursday night in the semifinals of the 24th Orange Holiday tournament, scoring 10 points in Saddleback’s 57-53 victory over Capistrano Valley in the Hutton Sports Center at Chapman College.
Simon sealed Saddleback’s 12th victory in 13 games by making a pair of free throws with 14 seconds remaining to advance the Roadrunners into the championship game of the 16-team tournament for the second consecutive season.
Saddleback will play Mater Dei in the title game tonight at 8:50. Mater Dei defeated Fountain Valley, 76-66, in the other semifinal game.
Saddleback broke open a close game by scoring 9 unanswered points in the final minutes and then held off a Capistrano Valley rally that ultimately ended when Simon made the free throws.
“Simon looks like ‘Herbie the Love Bug’ with those glasses, but he never gets the credit he deserves,” Saddleback Coach Pat Quinn said.
Simon, a senior, started for injured guard Tony Agnew, who turned an ankle in Saddleback’s quarterfinal victory over Dominguez. Simon had a few problems with Capistrano Valley’s press, but he made 4 free throws in the last quarter with the game on the line.
Saddleback led through the first half and enjoyed a big rebounding edge, 36-20, in a physical game. Capistrano Valley (9-4) trailed until Scott McCorkle made a baseline jump shot with 3:32 remaining in the third quarter for a 34-33 lead.
The teams traded leads for most of the second half until forward Jimmy Galbert put Saddleback ahead, 50-46, with 2:40 remaining. Saddleback center Malru Dottin scored 20 points and had 10 rebounds, but it was the defensive play of guard Craig Marshall that proved to be the difference.
Marshall contained McCorkle, Capistrano Valley’s high-scoring forward, to 23 points. McCorkle made 9 of 17 shots, but had to earn every basket.
“There isn’t anybody Craig can’t guard,” Quinn said. “He’s an intimidating defender. Individually, I don’t know how good we are, but collectively, we play awfully well as a team.”
In the other semifinal game:
Mater Dei 76, Fountain Valley 66--Dylan Rigdon scored 29 points and Mike Morris scored 20 as Mater Dei gave Fountain Valley its first loss of the season and advanced to the tournament championship game for the sixth time in the last 7 years.
The Monarchs did not compete in the tournament last season.
The two teams were tied, 51-51, going into the fourth quarter, but Mater Dei (14-1) built a 10-point lead on the strength of its outside shooting. Morris hit a 3-point field goal to give the Monarchs a 69-59 lead with 3 minutes 14 seconds remaining.
Tom Weaver and Derrick Corcoran each scored 18 points for Fountain Valley (10-1).
Saddleback is the only team to have defeated Mater Dei this season. The Roadrunners beat the Monarchs, 59-56, in triple overtime in the championship game of the Newport/Mesa tournament earlier this season.
The last three meetings between the two teams have gone at least one overtime, with Mater Dei winning 2 of the games.
In the consolation semifinals:
Orange Lutheran 75, Seattle Kennedy 55--Center Pat Bagatourian scored 32 points and Orange Lutheran (8-2) made 22 of 34 free throws to advance to the consolation championship at 3:50 today.
L.B. Wilson 68, Kennedy 59--Guards Mike Pettingill (21) and Jim Barker (22) combined for 43 points but it wasn’t enough as Kennedy (7-5) was eliminated from the tournament.
In other consolation games:
El Toro 65, Foothill 47--Sophomore Rob Johnson scored 27 points, including 5 3-point shots, to lead El Toro (8-5). El Toro made 13 of 14 free throws in the second half, outscoring Foothill, 37-20.
Dominguez 55, Marina 34--Marina fell behind, 14-1, managed to tie the score, 20-20, at halftime and then was outscored, 22-6, in the third quarter. Center Cherokee Parks scored 17 points, grabbed 9 rebounds and blocked 5 shots.