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SEA VIEW LEAGUE : Tustin Survives Near-Misses, Two Overtimes to Edge Woodbridge

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

Woodbridge had five opportunities to win its Sea View League showdown with Tustin and came up empty-handed five times after working for a final shot in regulation play and two overtime periods.

Consequently, it was Tustin that finally ended a four-game losing streak in Woodbridge’s gymnasium after holding on for a 55-54 victory in double overtime Friday night.

It was more a case of survival than winning for Tustin (14-3, 5-0 in league), but then Coach Andy Ground wasn’t arguing when the game was finally over.

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“They (five shots) all looked good when they went up,” he said. “They had open shots every time. My heart sunk every time. We’ve lost the last three years on last-second shots in this gym. It was our turn to finally win one of these.”

Woodbridge (9-6, 3-2) must have felt there was a lid on the rim as shots ending regulation, a scoreless first overtime period and then a second overtime came close but failed to go in.

Guard Shea Stone drove for a layup attempt with two seconds remaining in regulation play and the teams tied, 53-53. Teammate John Florance tried an off-balance tip following Stone’s miss at the buzzer, but it too was off the mark.

Woodbridge had its chances to win in the first overtime after holding Tustin scoreless, but a shot by Florance and subsequent follow attempt by Adam Libby also went for naught.

Finally, Florance’s final attempt to win the game with 13 seconds remaining in the second overtime and his team trailing, 55-54, fit what was now becoming a familiar pattern as the ball hit the heel of the rim and caromed off.

Afterward, Woodbridge Coach John Halagan admitted each shot looked good and praised his team for executing its passing offense well in working for the final shots.

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“When it’s all said and done, you could say we executed well, but this was a tough game for anybody to lose,” he said. “You had two teams who played real hard, but don’t like each other very much, but then have a lot of respect of each other.”

In the end, it was a driving layup by Tustin forward Rod Scheuerman with 2:30 left to play in the second overtime that ultimately won the game for the Tillers. But the shot was somehow lost among Woodbridge’s missed opportunities.

In the fourth quarter, Tustin forward DeJuan Matthews came up with the play of the game that sparked a Tiller comeback. Matthews rebounded a shot with one hand and in one swoop, slammed the missed shot that touched off a frenzy in the Tustin student section.

In other league games:

Irvine 63, University 41--Eric Ambrozich and perfection at the free-throw line were the difference for Irvine (13-4, 3-2). The Vaqueros were 19 for 19 from the line with Ambrozich making all 11 of his attempts. He finished with 29 points. University fell to 3-12, 0-5.

Corona del Mar 66, Newport Harbor 58--Guard Todd Merriman led Corona del Mar (9-7, 2-3) with 18 points. Chris Quinn also contributed with 11 points.

Santa Margarita 60, Saddleback 41--Brad Finneran had 14 points and Adam Dzierzynski had 12 to lead Santa Margarita (13-3, 4-1) past host Saddleback (5-11, 1-4). Chris Bradshaw had 15 points for Saddleback.

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