SOUTHERN SECTION BOYS' BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS : DIVISION I-AA : Griffins Have Ton of Fun Beating Santa Ana Valley

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Before Ali Ton stepped to the foul line that last time. Before he could knock down those last two free throws in Los Alamitos' 92-78 victory over Santa Ana Valley, there was something he had to do.

Ton, the Griffins' always-in-motion point guard, walked to the Los Alamitos' fans at Century High School and raised his arms in a isn't-this-great fashion.

"That's just Ali," center Jeremy Vandervoet said. "He's always getting excited like that. Sometimes I have to calm him down."

There was no doing that Friday. Not after Ton pushed the Griffins (21-7) into next Friday's Southern Section Division I-AA boys' basketball quarterfinals against Rialto Eisenhower by upsetting the fourth-seeded Falcons.

Ton had polished off a team that reached the semifinals last season and was considered a favorite to go even further this year. He did so by outplaying the Falcons' Olujimi Mann, considered among the top junior point guards in the nation.

Ton had 27 points, 11 assists and seven steals.

And, even after Ton had done all that, there was no slowing him down. He leaped into a mass of fans after the game, then jumped into Coach Steve Brooks' arms.

"I feel great because everybody did this," Ton said. "Everybody did their jobs. Some players scored, some played defense and our crowd yelled."

Mostly they cheered Ton, a 6-0 senior who moved from Turkey to the United States three years ago.

The Falcons (19-8) did their best to slow him down, but Ton merely weaved through the various presses and double teams.

"Ali was phenomenal," Brooks said. "He saw what they were giving us and then took it."

Ton did his best work in the fourth quarter, with 14 points, four assists and three steals to bring the Griffins from behind.

Not even Mann could offset that, try as he might. He wanted take control, as he did during the playoff run a year ago, but couldn't. Mann made only three of eight shots in the fourth quarter. He scored 26 points, but was eight of 21 from the field.

He also had two crucial turnovers and was given a technical foul all in the fourth quarter.

Santa Ana Valley led, 66-63, with six minutes left when Ton started a 10-0 run with two free throws. He then stripped Mann and scored on a layup. Ton finished the run by knocking the ball away from Mann, then catching a long pass for another layup.

It took less than two minutes and seemed to demoralize the Falcons.

"They are a nice team and they have great players," Ton said. "But there are great players and great teams. We played as a team."

Vandervoet, who was one of six in the first quarter, finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds.

Ike Harmon, the Falcons a 6-7 junior, suffered a wrist injury and did not play in the second half. He was taken to the hospital for X-rays. When he left, Vandervoet dominated the inside even more.

"I had to score or we were going to go home and they were going to go on," Vandervoet said.

He got help.

Reserve Craig Morgan scored 14 points, 10 in the fourth quarter. Chris Glass (11 points) and Corey Johnson (nine points) were effective outside.

It was enough to drive a Turkish point guard into a frenzy.

"Yeah I get a little excited, but we believed," Ton said. "Everybody believed."

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