June 15, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: Crean Lutheran gets back on winning track with road victory over Tustin

Crean Lutheran’s Troy Jenkins is guarded by Tustin’s Ethan Contreras Friday. (Photos courtesy Crean Lutheran Shutterbugs, Wendy Rueter).

Crean Lutheran High School’s boys basketball team answered the challenge Friday night, defeating Tustin 57-45 in an Empire League game at Tustin.

The Saints were coming off a tough 55-52 loss to Cypress Wednesday night which snapped a 34-game program win streak dating back to 2020. Crean Lutheran (11-10, 4-1) needed to win Friday to keep its hopes alive of sharing the league title with first place Cypress.

The teams meet again Tuesday, Jan. 30 at Cypress.

“It was a great bounce back victory for us after a really tough loss with against Cypress, that was a battle,” said Crean Lutheran Coach Nate Klitzing. “I think in the beginning, we looked a little flat but we continued to play through it. In the second half, we got the tempo up and we were able to get some steals in our press and get some easier baskets.”

To see the slide show, click on the first photo:

Crean Lutheran was led by senior guard Troy Jenkins, who had a season high 28 points and five 3-pointers. Jenkins had 11 points and three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to help the Saints turn back Tustin’s challenge.

“Troy was spectacular, right from the get-go, he had a different mindset and different attitude and effort, he started on the defensive end, he was chasing their shooters everywhere and doing a really good job defensively, that got him in the rhythm offensively and he was aggressive looking for his shot. He saw a couple go in and the floodgates opened.”

Tustin was within striking distance in the fourth quarter. A 3-pointer by Johnny Villagrana cut the lead to 42-39 with about five minutes left, but Milanas Luksas had a basket and Jenkins a 3-pointer to give the Saints a 47-39 lead with 3:19 left.

Crean Lutheran was able to finish strong in the final minutes.

“Obviously it was a tough loss against Cypress, we just wanted to get back to winning and it was obviously a big game for us in league, we just wanted to prove that we’re still here and we’re here to win it and obviously number one on the other team (Johnny Sagarino) got hot, I was chasing him off screens, I just wanted to make sure to get the ball out of his hands and trust my teammates and stay aggressive,” Jenkins said.

“We’ve been preaching in practice just trusting each other and staying locked in. We have a big game tomorrow against Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) so we wanted to use this momentum to carry it over to tomorrow (State Preview Classic) and try and get a victory.”

Sagarino led Tustin with 23 points, including nine points in the third quarter to help the Tillers stay close. He was the only Tiller in double figures. Crean Lutheran led 42-37 after three quarters.

“We were within striking distance of a very talented team until the last four minutes when we struggled to take care of the ball like we had for the first three and a half quarters,” said Tustin Coach Ringo Bossenmeyer. “Johnny Sagarino hit several big shots to keep us in the hunt and Carson Jue did an extraordinary job holding one of Orange County’s top scorers (to 13 points) and taking three charges.”

Kaiden Bailey added 13 points and Luksas nine points for Crean Lutheran.

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