Orange’s Edge on Home Court Proves Valuable : Division I-A: With a noisy crowd behind them, the Panthers produce a 69-61 victory over Corona.


Never underestimate the power of hardwood.

Orange’s famous home court turned into the Doom Dome for Corona on Friday night as the Panthers boys’ basketball team advanced to the third round of the Division I-A Southern Section playoffs with a 69-61 victory.

“The big key for us was the home court,” said Orange Coach Richard Bossenmeyer. “The fans did a great job.”

Orange’s players didn’t exactly slump. But for third-seeded Orange (22-3), a lift of the arms to signal crowd noise by the Orange’s coaching staff is as effective as an admonition to box out.


Gil Gonzales, who scored a game-high 24 points, said the cozy gym was worth seven or eight points.

“We love to play here,” he said with a grin.

Fans enthusiastically backed Orange, especially in the fourth quarter. Corona’s Randy Knoll tied the game at 45-45 on a turn around jumper to start the quarter, before Orange scored eight unanswered points for a 53-45 lead.

Clutch Corona (21-5) free-throw shooting and a layup by Eric Knapp cut Orange’s margin to four, 59-55, with 1:20 left. But Orange slowed down the tempo, Corona was forced to foul and Orange had a field day at the foul line, where the Panthers were 14 of 16 in the waning minutes.

“Coach makes us shoot 30 free throws a day,” said Gonzales. “At the end of practice, if we don’t make five in a row, or eight out of 10, we have to to stay and run.”

Another Orange strong point was its accuracy from three-point range. Gonzales, who sported a 47% shooting average behind the arc going into the game, increased that number with Friday’s performance. All of Gonzales’ baskets, save for a layup in the fourth quarter, were three-pointers, including four in the first quarter.

Orange took a 24-18 lead after the first quarter, which Corona cut to 35-30 by halftime. In the third, Knapp converted a steal into a three-pointer to pull Corona to 45-43.


Pat Harris added 14 points for Orange. Jonny McKee added 22 points for Corona.

Orange will meet Edison in Tuesday’s quarterfinals at a site to be determined.