South Coast League : Molle Screens Give Irvine the Openings to Roll Past El Toro

Times Staff Writer

Irvine High School picked El Toro apart Friday night in the South Coast League Jamboree in UC Irvine’s Bren Center.

Raphael Molle, Irvine’s 6-foot 5-inch, 265-pound center, set the screens that allowed his teammates to repeatedly get open shots in Irvine’s 66-60 victory in the featured game of the league’s tripleheader.

Molle, an all-league offensive lineman in football, showed he’s also skillful at creating openings on the basketball court.

Irvine outscored El Toro, 23-10, in the third period and sealed the victory by making 12 of 18 free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter. Irvine (15-2, 1-0) was trailing at halftime, 27-25.


El Toro (10-6, 0-1) had won 7 of its past 8 games, but the Chargers were no match inside against Molle, who threw his weight around all evening.

“I told the players before the game that we couldn’t afford to put them on the free-throw line, and that’s exactly what we did,” said Tim Travers, El Toro coach. “They killed us at the line.”

Irvine, shooting 73% at the line going into the game, made 22 of 30 free throws, but that was just part of Irvine’s formula for success.

The Vaqueros continued to play a brand of man-to-man defense that ranks among the best in Orange County. El Toro made only 21 of 55 field-goal attempts, and only a couple of 3-point shots in the final minute made the game close.

Irvine, one of the more disciplined teams in the area, rarely took a poor shot and controlled the tempo from start to finish.

“I don’t know if we have great athletes, but we have smart kids,” said Steve Keith, Irvine’s second-year coach. “It was a nice step making the playoffs last year, and we’ve built on that.”

Keith replaced Al Herring 2 seasons ago at Irvine. Last season, he led Irvine to its first playoff berth in the school’s history. This season, Irvine has emerged as the league favorite.

Irvine guard Bryan Allred led all scorers with 21 points, sophomore John Molle added 17 points and his older brother, Raphael, scored 13.

Khari Johnson led El Toro with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Rob Johnson, who fouled out midway through the fourth quarter, added 13 points.

Mission Viejo 52, Dana Hills 39--Dana Hills, ninth in the Orange County Sportswriters’ Assn. poll at the beginning of the week, lost its second consecutive game.

Mission Viejo (6-7, 1-0) made 8 consecutive free throws in the final 47 seconds to gain the win. Center John Lloyd led Dana Hills (12-6, 0-1) with 18 points.