For those who were wondering if Los Alamitos was as good as its record, stop wondering.
The fifth-ranked Griffins are indeed good. And they no longer will be a secret, not after thumping third-ranked Esperanza, 54-43, and moving out in front of the Sunset League.
Los Alamitos (13-4, 2-0) took the lead for good in the second quarter, 26-22, and led by as many as 12 before settling on the final margin.
They couldn't battle visiting Esperanza (15-3, 1-1) on the boards, getting outrebounded, 35-24, led by Lohnnie Tape's 14. But they outfought the Aztecs just about everywhere else, forcing 19 turnovers and harassing them into a 17-for-51 evening from the field.
"You could see they wanted the game more than we did tonight," said Esperanza Coach Mark Hill, after a lengthy post-game discourse with his players. "There were times they got several key offensive rebounds and we just stood and watched.
"They are good. But we didn't play to our potential tonight. And our league season just got tougher."
It also got bigger for the Griffins, who now must be considered a legitimate threat to win the Sunset if they play their remaining eight league games as they did Wednesday.
Los Alamitos didn't have an especially hot hand from the field either, making only 18 of 49. The Griffins, however, made certain they got their shots from all over the court. Even the four blocked shots they absorbed did not dissuade them from driving into the Aztec defense and seeking easy lay-ups and three-pointers.
"We wanted to come in and execute well, and I thought for the most part we did that," Los Alamitos Coach Steve Brooks said.
"The Sunset League is going to be a very competitive one. So it was nice to come in here and get a jump on them."
Junior guard Chris Glass, who scored 11 points and spent much of the game dribbling around and through the Aztec defense to set up the Griffin offense, was a bit more succinct.
"We wanted to run them because we felt we were quicker and in better condition," he said. "This is a tough place to come in and win, and they came out early with intensity, but we got to them."
Esperanza's Josh Greer led all scorers with 20 points and 11 rebounds, 10 of them coming in the second half.
J.D. Lamoureaux--despite a blow to the nose in the second quarter that drew blood--paced Los Alamitos with 15, although he struggled in his shooting. The county's second-leading field-goal shooter (63%) made only six of 19 attempts.