May 27, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Crean Lutheran aims for another league title, then a chance to repeat as CIF champions

Vyctorius Miller has been Crean Lutheran’s leading scorer. (Photo: OC Sports Zone, Tim Burt).

Crean Lutheran’s boys basketball team played just one game in a span of a week until Tuesday, but the Saints have a busy schedule through Monday, which includes one league makeup game.

The schedule continues Thursday night when the Saints play Cypress in an Empire League makeup game at Cypress.

Crean Lutheran (14-1 overall) defeated Tustin on Tuesday, Rancho Christian on Wednesday and on Monday plays Sheldon of Sacramento in the MLK Showcase at St. John Bosco.

The Saints are currently ranked fifth in the CIF Division 1 poll ahead of number seven Mater Dei and they’re also listed among the teams in the CIF Open Division for the playoffs. Crean Lutheran won the 2A title last season

“We won a CIF championship last year, but every year our goal is to win the Empire League and no games are given to you,” said Coach Nate Klitzing, who led the Saints to the league title last season. “You got to earn them, one game at a time and we have the ability to do really well in league but we want to continue to take each opponent the right way and if we do what we’re supposed to do, we could continue to get better and hopefully we’re peaking at the right time.”

Crean Lutheran’s hopes have been bolstered by 6-5 sophomore guard Vyctorius Miller, a transfer, who has been the team’s leading scorer averaging 21 points a game.

“He’s a real special talent,” Klitzing said. “He’s a hard worker and is just a student of the game. He wants to get better and I’m just really blessed to be able to coach him and work with him and hopefully continue to hone in on his skills to continue to take it to the next level.

“What’s amazing for his age is his creativity as a scorer. He can score so creatively around the rim with the way he can handle his body. He can do it all, he can score from all three levels. He sees the game in such a special way that you can’t teach.”

Miller credited his teammates for their solid play in Tuesday’s win and also talked about the future.

“The goal is just to win our section and then win state hopefully,” Miller said. “I’m just embracing the moment and working day by day.”

Miller has already attracted attention from college coaches and said his goal is to play college basketball.

“I have a lot of offers,” he said. “The ones off my head, I have Kansas, Arizona, Arizona State, USC, Georgetown, Wake Forest. I picked up USC not too long ago.”

Crean Lutheran has plenty of other talented players too including 6-10 senior Koat Keat, 7-0 senior James Agany, 6-5 senior Parker Tuttle, 6-0 sophomore Darrell Morris, 6-4 senior Rui Han and 6-2 senior Jack Fairchild.

“Parker, when he hits three’s, it makes us a different team,” Klitzing said. “He’s been through the battles with CIF (playoffs) and all that,” Klitzing said. “The twin towers continue to wreak havoc and when they’re playing hard and they’re flying around we’re a special team because of our length and (Keat) is our engine that just makes us go and he’s a fierce competitor for us.

“And Darrell Morris and Rui Han add just an element of speed and shiftiness which we didn’t have last year which is pretty special. We have a lot of great pieces for sure.”

—Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com