Orange Lutheran High School came out flat in its Southern Section 2-A semifinal basketball game against Paraclete Friday night.
The Lancers were leading, but were sluggish. They needed a shot in the the arm.
Actually, they need some shots by Daryl Cole.
“We had problems getting going. I think the week off might have caused it,” said Cole, a 6-foot-4 junior forward. “I was just trying to help.”
Help he did.
Cole, The Times’ athlete of the week, scored 19 of his game-high 23 points in the first half. As a result, the Lancers led, 45-38, at halftime.
Orange Lutheran routed Paraclete, 91-73, to advance to Saturday’s 2-A championship game against Santa Clara at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
“We had a slow second quarter so Daryl’s performance definitely helped,” Orange Lutheran Coach Jerry Simmons said. “But, it was nothing new.”
During the regular season, Cole led the Lancers in scoring and was sixth in Orange County, averaging 21.6 points per game. He was third in the county in three-point percentage (58.6), fourth in free-throw percentage (83.6) and sixth in field-goal percentage (55.2).
Cole is a part of the Lancers’ triple-threat offense, along with guard Jason Neben and center Pat Bagatourian. They have been the thrust of Orange Lutheran’s attack all season.
“You can stop one of us, but you can’t stop all three,” Cole said. “If they concentrate on shutting Pat down inside, it leaves me open for an outside shot.”
Shooting always has been Cole’s strong point.
When he was in the third grade, his father put up a basketball hoop in the back yard. Since then, Cole has spent at least an hour almost every day shooting.
His shooting ability got him promoted to the varsity as a sophomore. After starting the season on the junior varsity, Cole was called up just before the Orange Holiday tournament.
“We needed a shooter and Daryl was the logical choice,” Simmons said. “We wanted to get him where he would play the most.”
Cole played just a couple of minutes against Lakewood in the first round of the Orange Holiday tournament. But the next night against Foothill, he played almost the entire second half and scored eight points--all on jump shots.
“I was pretty nervous at first,” Cole said. “Everybody was so big. But after the Foothill game, I knew I could play at the varsity level.”
Cole, who averaged five points a game as a sophomore, knew he was going to be a starter this season. He worked during the summer to improve the other aspects of the game, such as rebounding and ballhandling.
The work paid off, as Cole is averaging nearly 7.4 rebounds per game and is always a threat to drive to the hoop.
“He’s become a fine all-around player,” Simmons said. “And he’s only a junior.”
Bryan Allred of Irvine scored 42 points in two games as the Vaqueros advanced to the 5-A championship basketball game.
Scott McCorkle of Capistrano Valley scored 60 points in two games as the Cougars advanced to the 5-A championship basketball game.
Joe-Max Moore of Mission Viejo scored five goals in two games as the Diablos reached the 3-A soccer semifinals.
Brian Spratt of Corona del Mar scored 43 points in two games as the Sea Kings advanced to the 3-A championship basketball game.
Orange Lutheran High
Height, Weight, Class: 6-4, 180, Junior
Last Week: Cole scored 23 points, 19 in the first half, to lead the Lancers to a 91-73 victory over Paraclete in the Southern Section 2-A basketball semi-finals.
Season: Cole averaged 21.6 points and 7.4 rebounds during the regular season.