Tustin High School’s extended zone defense limited Servite to 12 points in the second half of the Tillers’ 50-40 victory Wednesday night at Servite High School.
Tustin (13-2) overcame an 11-point deficit in the second half by making 16 of 22 free-throw attempts and allowing Servite only five field goals. Servite (10-4) made 5 of 22 shots from the field in the second half.
“We did some real stupid things in the second half,” Servite Coach Richard Smith said. “We got real impatient and didn’t take what they gave us. We tried to force too many things.”
Servite held a 28-19 lead at intermission by using a passing offense that took advantage of defensive lapses by Tustin for easy layups. Servite made 8 of 12 shots in the first half and 11 of 16 free-throw attempts.
Servite opened the third quarter with a steal and layup by Adam Anderson to take a 30-19 lead, but the Friars scored only 10 points in the remaining 15 minutes of play. Still, the Friars had a chance to tie the game with 2:32 remaining when Tustin turned the ball over with a 42-40 lead.
But Tustin center Brian Reider and forward Thomas Clayton turned back Servite with four free throws each in the final minute of play. Clayton finished with 12 points and eight rebounds and Reider added 11 points.
Tustin Coach Tom McCluskey said his team’s ability to overcome a sluggish first half proved to be the difference.
“We did everything that we didn’t want to do in the first half, and still won the game,” McCluskey said. “We weren’t ready to play and Servite is a tough team to try and catch up to. Our defense changed the tempo in the second half and speeded up the game. I thought we took them out of what they like to do offensively.”
The game was a final tuneup for Servite before it plays host to Mater Dei Friday night in an Angelus League opener at Cypress College. Servite has lost to Mater Dei 16 consecutive times, and Smith thought the loss to Tustin would help his team two days later.
“We were in a close game with a very good team, and that can only help us,” Smith said. “Playing one of the county’s best teams will help get us ready for Mater Dei. Win or lose, our kids will be up for Mater Dei no matter what.”