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ORANGE HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT : Airey, Defense Lift Capistrano Valley

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Behind a strong defensive effort and the three-point shooting of guard Tom Airey, Capistrano Valley defeated Santa Clara, 61-45, in the championship game of the 27th Orange Holiday Classic Saturday night at the Hutton Sports Center.

Airey made five three-pointers, and Capistrano Valley (11-2) shut down Santa Clara in the second half, limiting the Saints to 11 of 31 field goals. Santa Clara (10-3) played most of the second half without forward Chris Cole, who injured his ankle on a drive to the basket. Cole left with 31 seconds remaining in the first half and didn’t return until 2:55 was left in the third quarter.

When Cole returned, Capistrano Valley led, 35-23. Cole played about two minutes and was noticeably hobbling. He didn’t play in the fourth quarter and finished with only two points.

“Our defense was really good the whole tournament,” Capistrano Valley Coach Mark Thornton said. “Our average margin of victory going into this game was 36 points.”

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It was a defensive struggle from the outset. Neither team scored for nearly 2 1/2 minutes. The teams were tied five times before Airey made two consecutive three-point shots that put Capistrano Valley ahead, 17-12.

Santa Clara had problems generating offense and committed 12 turnovers in the first half. The Saints fell behind, 23-14, when Capistrano Valley’s Aaron Rhoades made two free throws with 1:14 remaining in the half.

Capistrano Valley held a seven-point halftime lead despite making only three of 11 free-throw attempts. The Cougars got a surprisingly good performance from centers Jeremy Garrett and Matt Moore. Garrett had eight points and seven rebounds and Moore added 12 points.

In an early season showdown, Capistrano Valley will play top-ranked Mater Dei Friday night in UC Irvine’s Bren Center. Mater Dei beat Capistrano Valley, 69-55, in the semifinals of the Tournament of Champions earlier this year.

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In the third-place game:

Laguna Beach 61, Marina 50--Laguna Beach avenged a 73-51 loss to Marina last week in the Irvine World News tournament by utilizing an effective press that helped create 32 turnovers.

Laguna Beach (7-4) opened a 22-7 lead early in the second quarter when guard Darren Gravley made his second of four three-point shots. Gravley finished with 18 points.

Marina (8-5) managed to get within eight points, 51-43, with 5:12 remaining in the fourth quarter when forward B.J. Babic made a three-point play. But Gravley responded with a three-point shot that gave Laguna Beach a cushion.

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“Last week, we were lethargic and couldn’t throw a pea in the ocean,” said Laguna Beach Coach Bret Fleming. “I thought Eric Fegraus did a nice job in our press. He’s our designated trap man.”


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