May 25, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Dana Hills tops previously undefeated Northwood to reach tourney final

Dana Hills Coach Tom Desiano talks to his players during a timeout Friday night. (Photo: Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone).

Dana Hills boys basketball team came out firing and went on to defeat previously undefeated Northwood 69-46 in the semifinals of the Loara Classic Friday night at Loara.

Dana Hills (6-2) moves on to the finals Saturday night against Servite Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

“We probably played our best game of the year tonight,” said Dana Hills Coach Tom Desiano. “Our guys were really focused and locked in, particularly on the defensive side of the ball and we did a good job of kind of keeping them in front of us for the most part.

“They run their stuff so well, we went over how we wanted to defend it and they really implemented the game plan well. And then we got out and ran and we got some steals, we’re pretty good in transition so it was a good job all the way around.”

Dana Hills was led by senior guard Griffin Haugh, who scored 28 points and sank five 3-point field goals.

“That’s what we expect, he’s really our best player and he can get it going and he did tonight thank goodness,” Desiano said. “When things break down, he can get a shot and he makes coaches look good.”

Senior forward Adam Pellini added 17 points and freshman guard Collin Haugh contributed nine points.

Northwood, which had won its first seven games under first-year coach Christian Manalo, was led by Daniil Shaplov with 17 points and Devon Huang with nine points.

“Dana Hills came prepared to battle and we were definitely not at our best this evening,” Manalo said.

“Credit to Dana as they played hard and their experience showed. Despite our 7-0 start, we’re still young and have a lot to learn as this season progresses. We’re not going to overreact to this loss but come back more prepared and ready to compete tomorrow against Newport Harbor as we approach league.”

Dana Hills led 16-9 after the first quarter then started the second quarter with a bang on a dunk by Pellini. The Dolphins led 30-19 at halftime and remained in control in the second half with a 50-33 lead going into the final quarter before earning a spot in the finals.

“That’s what our goal is to make it to the championship and that’s where we’re at,” Desiano said.

Northwood (7-1) will face Newport Harbor in the third place game at 4 p.m. Loara and Fullerton play at 1 p.m., Costa Mesa faces Western at 2:30 p.m.

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