May 20, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Crean Lutheran boys try to keep CIF playoff run going against talented Troy team

It’s been an exciting playoff run for Crean Lutheran’s basketball team so far. (File photo courtesy Crean Lutheran)

Crean Lutheran’s boys basketball team seems to be putting it all together at the right time and the Saints are headed into the quarterfinal round of the CIF 2A playoffs.

The Saints (17-13 overall) travel to Fullerton Thursday night to take on Troy at 7 p.m. with the winner moving on to the semifinals Saturday night against the winner of the La Canada vs. Walnut game.

Troy (18-12) poses quite a challenge. The Warriors knocked off top-seeded Tesoro 56-55 on Tuesday night in the opening round on Tesoro’s home court and the Warriors will have the hometown fans on their side.

Cole Yauncey led Troy with 21 points and 14 rebounds and Trevor Seesemann added 12 points in the victory over Tesoro.

At Crean Lutheran on Tuesday night, the Saints put together an impressive performance as well in an 80-66 victory.

Crean Lutheran used a balanced effort to move on.

Chris Swardstrom and Aiden Gilbert scored 18 points each, Jon Scherer scored 15 points and Drew Yezbak 12 points to lead the Saints.

“We knew Redlands East Valley had a lot of shooters and they got hot early,” said Crean Lutheran Coach Nate Klitzing. “We had to kind of fight our way back and picked up the pace and picked up the tempo and started getting out in transition and we were able to get some easier buckets which got us going.

“From then on, we kind of settled in the game and defensively we battled. I’m just proud of the way our guys are peaking at the right time and just really playing together. That’s what it’s been about.”

Klitzing, in his first year, has been able to guide a team which lost some key players after last year’s head coach Josh Beaty was dismissed after the Saints won the CIF title. Crean Lutheran defeated Knight in the 3AA title game 62-61.

This year, Crean Lutheran was moved up to the 2A division.

“I think deep down we knew we still had a lot of pieces and if we came all together and played unselfishly and played as a team and trusted each other that we could do some damage because we have a lot of guys who can shoot the ball and get out in transition,” Klitzing said. “So it’s been fun, it’s been a great group.”

Klitzing said he expects a tough challenge against Troy.

“Troy is a great team,” Klitzing said. “Watching them play, they played a tough schedule as well and it was a great win by them. They play really sound defensively and they’re very scrappy and they have a couple bigs who know how to play and can fill it up. So, it’s going to be a tough task for us, but we’re looking forward to it.”

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

Troy