Two reasons No. 2 Tustin was able to handle No. 3 Sonora: A third-quarter run that gave the Tillers a comfortable cushion they never surrendered and a good defensive job on Sonora 7-foot center Craig Clark.
Tustin's second-half performance allowed it to take a 53-46 nonleague victory over the Raiders in front of a packed house Saturday night at Tustin High. The victory, Tustin's second over Sonora this season, was the Tillers' 13th in a row and ended the Raiders' 19-game winning streak. Sonora's last loss was a 49-47 setback to Tustin during a tournament at Trabuco Hills in December.
Though the Tillers (22-1) needed a buzzer-beating basket by forward Aaron Kraus to decide the first meeting, no last-second heroics were necessary this time.
Tustin led, 23-20, at the half, then used a 9-0 spurt for a 32-20 lead lead after a basket by Kraus with 5:56 remaining. Sonora (21-3) got no closer than seven the rest of the way.
"We changed our defense a little bit in the second half," Tustin Coach Andy Ground said. "We tried some new things in the first quarter, but (Sonora) kept getting easy layups. We tried to take away what they were hurting us on, which was dumping it in the high post and going to Clark."
Clark, who averaged 16 points before the game, finished with 12 points, five rebounds and three blocks. But he was clearly outplayed by Tustin 6-7 center David Lalazarian, who had 17 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks. Clark and his teammates--particularly guard Sergio Hernandez, who managed only four points on two of 10 shooting--also had trouble adjusting to Tustin's collapsing defense.
Tustin point guard Doug Gottlieb led all scorers with 18 points. He also had eight assists.
Sonora sophomore forward Josh Lien finished with 14 points and nine rebounds. Forward Chad Fister added 13 points.
In nonleague boys' basketball:
Palos Verdes Chadwick 59, Brethren Christian 51--Brethren Christian rallied with 26 fourth-quarter points, but fell short. Mike Legaspi and Franz Criego each scored nine points in the fourth quarter. Legaspi finished with 16 points, Criego added 13 for Brethren Christian (13-11).
Whittier Christian 56, Montclair Prep 50--Trevor Ream scored 10 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter to help Whittier Christian pull away. Brad Smith also added 20 points for Whittier Christian (11-11).