May 29, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Crean Lutheran boys basketball team fights off challenge from Tustin to capture 65-61 Empire League victory

Senior Jon Scherer led Crean Lutheran with 25 points Tuesday night.

Crean Lutheran’s boys basketball team fought off a tough challenge from Tustin and held on for a 65-61 Empire League victory Tuesday night at Crean Lutheran in a battle of two teams who were tied for second place in the league.

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Tustin (13-10, 4-3) had a 3-point lead with about two minutes remaining before Crean Lutheran (12-11, 5-2) rallied behind the play of senior guard Jon Scherer, who scored 13 of his 25 points in the final stanza. He had five 3-pointers.

Aiden Gilbert added 14 points and Chris Swardstrom had 10 points for the Saints.

Tustin junior Kyan Patel had a sensational night, scoring 26 points and making eight 3-pointers to help keep the Tillers in it. Ryan Stading had 10 points and Jesus Contreras eight points for Tustin.

“Tustin did a great job, with Coach (Ringo Bossenmeyer) he’s been through all the battles and he’s seen it all and he made some great adjustments and his team just battled all night and made things difficult for us and it was one of those ones where it was going to be gut-check time and we had to fight all the way to the end,” said Crean Lutheran Coach Nate Klitzing.

“But I expected that from them. They’re not going to lay over. We were both 4-2 and fighting for that second spot. I was proud of the way our boys fought back when they were in adversity and finished it out.”

Tustin held a 57-56 lead on a 3-pointer by Patel with 1:40 left. But Scherer counted with a two-pointer and a 3-point field goal to put the Saints ahead 61-57. Josh Shin made two free throws with 25 seconds left to give the Saints a 63-57 lead and they were able to hold on.

“They came out and they were really prepared,” Scherer said. “Their coaching was phenomenal and their players were ready. They knew what they were doing and they knew our plays so we just had to come out and adjust our defense a little bit at halftime.

“My teammates just started finding me (in the fourth quarter). I got hot and hit a couple and when I got hot, I knew I was not going to miss the rest of the game, so I just kept shooting.”

Crean Lutheran led 27-22 at halftime and held a 42-36 advantage going into the final quarter.

It was a performance that Coach Bossenmeyer could be proud of as his squad tries to make a playoff push.

“We are encouraged by the fact that we are growing as a team,” he said. “However, we are frustrated that tonight we missed on a few crucial defensive assignments late in the game. Obviously with the way Crean shoots the ball, that will not get it done.

“Kyan Patel made big shot after big shot to keep us right there down the stretch. Despite the defensive breakdowns, our confidence as a team that we can compete against quality teams should be evident each time we step on the floor.”

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