Deandrae Smith knew the feeling well. He had it last season, when Long Beach Jordan won the Southern Section Division I-AA championship.
"When we get in a groove, everything goes our way," said Smith, a 6-foot-6 center. "We were rolling today."
Right over Irvine.
The Panthers looked every bit like the defending champion in their 57-44 victory over Irvine in the second round of the Coast Christmas Tournament Friday at Estancia High School. It was their sixth consecutive victory and it came all too easy.
The Vaqueros, ranked fifth in Orange County, found that their reputation stops at the county line. Jordan controlled every aspect of the game and led by as many as 27 points before Irvine made it look respectable with some late baskets.
"I don't ever remember a game where we were dominated on both ends of the floor like that," Irvine Coach Steve Keith said. "They were terrific and we were horrible."
The Panthers (10-3) were brash from the start. They pressed Irvine into confusion, forcing seven turnovers in the first quarter alone.
Jordan scored 10 points off turnovers in the first half.
Irvine (10-3) didn't help matters by being intimidated. When the Vaqueros did break the Jordan press, they appeared relieved and tentative, trying not to throw the ball away instead of working for a good shot.
As a result, the Panthers jumped out to a 23-11 lead at the end of the first quarter.
"We want teams to run with us and play the up-tempo game," Panther Coach Ron Massey said. "So we get on people tight."
Which is a safe gamble with a guy like Smith back on defense. Smith scored just five points but blocked four shots and altered a few others.
Jordan's Louis Pinckney blocked three shots.
"They were just too much for us," Keith said.
The Panthers led, 36-17, at halftime, then turned up the heat even more in the third quarter. They scored the first nine points of the second half and the rout was on.
Meanwhile, Irvine made only two of 19 shots in the third quarter. The backcourt tandem of Brian Boothroyd and Brian Linsenmayer combined for five points.
Nothing went wrong for Jordan. At one point, Kenneth Johnson dribbled the ball off his foot, only to have teammate Reggie Grier make a diving save--right into the arms of Everett Ratleff, who sank a three-pointer.
A few minutes later, Pinckney lost the ball, but teammate Bobby Richardson made the save to Michael Parks. The result was another three-pointer.
Jordan spread the wealth around, with Johnson scoring 14 points and Ratleff 11.
In other second round games:
Tustin 69, Glendale Hoover 60--The Tillers survived a fourth-quarter rally on the strength of their free-throw shooting. Tustin made 16 of 18 free throws in the final quarter.
Derek Roche, who scored 22 points, made eight of eight foul shots in the fourth quarter. The Tillers led by as many as 16 points behind the play of Roche and Maurice Fletcher (17 points).
However, Hoover scored 27 points in the fourth quarter, 19 by guard Dave Ulloa, who hit four three-pointers. Ulloa finished with 28 points, including five three-pointers.
Estancia 69, Interlake 58--Matt Fuerbringer scored 20 points and had 11 rebounds and five assists for Estancia (8-3). Matt McPoland scored 25 points, including four three-pointers, for Interlake.
Huntington Beach 60, Righetti 53--Tony Gonzalez was the high scorer for Huntington Beach with 20 points.
In consolation games:
Newport Harbor 60, Dana Hills 40--The Sailors led by one at halftime but outscored the Dolphins, 14-4, in the third quarter. Marc McAnlis scored 15 points, Mike Ofer 14 and Eric Vallely 13 for Newport Harbor. Dan Anderson scored 14 points for Dana Hills.
Hanford 70, Esperanza 55--Glen Lyles scored 22 points and Tad Hoffman 15 to lead the Bullpups. Hanford jumped out to a 23-9 first-quarter lead and was never challenged.
Wilmington Banning 60, Corona del Mar 48--Sean Washington scored 15 points and Jana Wafer 10 to lead the Pilots. Doug Hesse scored 12 points and Jason Clark 10 for the Sea Kings.
Pomona 72, Mission Viejo 50--Joe Phears scored 23 points, including six three-pointers, to lead the Red Devils. Pomona led by one at halftime but outscored Mission Viejo, 24-11, in the fourth quarter to break the game open.