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Division I Basketball Semifinals : San Diego Has Enough to Advance

In a jigsaw puzzle, a tree with a missing piece is still as tree, just not as aesthetically pleasing.

In basketball, a team with one of its top scorers out is still a team, just not as effective.

In Tuesday night’s Division I boys’ basketball semifinal at Torrey Pines--in which San Diego defeated Valhalla, 79-67--all personnel were accounted for but not present.

Never mind, said San Diego Coach Dennis Kane. What matters is the kids on the court when it counts.

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“I’m tired of talking about the kids who are playing and the kids who aren’t playing,” he said.

Who was playing: Clark James and Milton Miller for San Diego and Tony Clark for Valhalla. Clark finished with a game-high 35 points. James had a team-high 26 points and Miller added 21.

Who didn’t play: Rafid Kiti for Valhalla and Raynard Wells for San Diego. Earlier in the day, Kiti suffered a collapsed lung, a condition that kept him out of six games in the regular season before he helped the Norsemen reach the round of four.

Wells has been ailing academically and has been ineligible since early February.

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Kane admitted that Kiti’s presence would have made for a closer game.

“With Kiti there, it’s a different story, but we just had more then they did tonight.”

Valhalla played with San Diego in the first quarter but then fell further behind as the clocked ticked away.

The Cavers pushed a 17-14 lead after one quarter to 37-32 at the half.

Any kind of a Valhalla comeback was then stifled by James (who scored four consecutive times for the Cavers to push them in front, 45-38 with 4:20 remaining in the third) and Miller (whose four baskets in a row early in the fourth gave San Diego a 66-55 lead before Valhalla called a timeout with 4:23 left).

“When we started hitting,” James said, “I knew we could keep it up. Coach said with their 2-3 zone, we could get any shot off we wanted. And we did.”

“I don’t make any excuses,” Valhalla Coach Manny Silva said. “Miller and James were unbelievable tonight. I didn’t feel that they outplayed us though.”

Miller said he almost wished Kiti had been there. “I think it would have been a real great game if he had played.”

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