With talents such as David Lalazarian and Robert Griffin, Tustin often can get by on offense alone. But when the Tillers think defense, they can be quite a handful.
Sonora found that out Friday. The Tillers' aggressive man-to-man defense rattled the Raiders into 11 first-half turnovers (19 for the game) as Tustin won, 74-58, in a matchup of county top-10 teams at Sonora.
Tustin played a sticky defense, cutting off passing lanes, trapping at the halfcourt and outhustling Sonora (8-3).
And when Tustin (10-2) had the ball, it was just as hard on the Raiders. Lalazarian pretty much had his way against Sonora, scoring a game-high 35 points. Griffin, using his speed to score several breakaway layups as a result of the defensive pressure, had 19 points.
But Lalazarian, who played with four fouls the final 6:19 of the game, was just as proud of his eight rebounds and a blocked shot.
"The last time we played them, I didn't play defense that well and I didn't [rebound]," Lalazarian said. "Their guards would penetrate, I would move out to help, and then my man would score easy jumpers. This time I was going to stick with my man on defense, then try to make him work hard on defense."
Josh Lien, who scored 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter (but also had the thankless task of guarding Lalazarian), and Jimmy Landry, who had 12, did their best to keep Sonora in it. But a 13-2 run to start the second quarter put Tustin ahead, 31-11, and the Raiders never got closer than seven.
"I was very happy with our defense tonight," Tustin Coach Andy Ground said. "And I wanted to beat them because they beat us last time out. I told our team that to be a champion you have to bounce back."
Ground told his team other things in no uncertain terms when the Raiders cut the deficit to seven points with 3:37 to play. Tustin came right back, outscoring Sonora 11-2 the rest of the way.
"When Coach gets excited he can be kind of scary," Griffin said.
So can his team.