Compton Dominguez played with a chip on its shoulder, a bench that seemed to extend to The Pond's parking lot, and talent that might be as good as any in the state.
Two of three would have sufficed, but the combination made Dominguez lethal in Saturday's 77-59 romp over Tustin in the Southern Section Division II-A boys' final.
Thomas Prince, Dominguez's star, was a no-show until fourth-quarter garbage time, but the Dons didn't need Prince Saturday. They had plenty with their inside duo of Jason Thomas and James Jones and their three-guard rotation of James Brown, Kenney Brunner, Shareef A'Quil, and Cedric Holmes, who forced Tustin point guard Doug Gottlieb into six turnovers and five-of-15 shooting.
"We were trying to wear Doug out," Prince said. "We wanted to keep running people at him to tire him out. I'm not sure if it worked, because Doug was still going strong at the end."
But by the time Gottlieb got going--he scored 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter--Dominguez had the game well in hand. All day it appeared as if Gottlieb and center David Lalazarian were playing two on nine. While Dominguez Coach Russell Otis played musical chairs with his bench, Tustin Coach Andy Ground never looked toward his until Lalazarian picked up his fourth foul with six minutes left in the third quarter. And even then, Lalazarian was on the bench for all of 10 seconds.
Lalazarian wound up playing all but 10 seconds and Gottlieb played the entire way. Meanwhile, Prince was the only Dominguez player to spend more than 30 minutes on the court.
Prince said he sensed early that Gottlieb and Lalazarian were going to carry the load for Tustin.
"I was looking for somebody else to shoot it," Prince said, "but it didn't seem like anybody wanted to." Jones, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound junior forward, and Thomas, a 6-5, 200-pound freshman, weren't afraid though. Jones scored 18 points, grabbed three rebounds and handed out three assists. And Thomas had 10 points, all of them in the second half, five rebounds and two dunks. It's hard to believe he needed a pep talk at halftime.
"In the first half, I was very tentative," Thomas said. "But Tommy (Prince) told me at halftime to keep my head up. In the second, I just let the game come to me."
Afterward, Dominguez's players were more humble and subdued than Otis, whose diatribe at the post-game press conference was reminiscent of Arizona Coach Lute Olson's bitter "we don't get any respect" lecture to reporters after the Wildcats reached the NCAA Final Four last year. Otis was mostly upset that his team was seeded second behind Tustin.
"The difference (Saturday) was the schedule we played," Otis said. "Our schedule was 10 times tougher than Tustin's. This is a lot of frustration."
It was also a lot of talent, and a lot of depth--frustration notwithstanding.