July 18, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: Portola makes home fans happy with 62-52 win over Dana Hills in playoff opener

Portola’s Saif Habibeh looks to pass off as teammate Robert Giraldy waits for the ball Wednesday night. (Photo Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone)

Portola’s boys basketball team wanted to make sure it made the home fans happy and the Bulldogs did just that Wednesday night in the opening round of the CIF 3AA playoffs at Portola.

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

Portola opened with a 62-52 victory over Dana Hills and will meet top-seeded Providence of Burbank Friday night in the second round. Portola (18-11) won the coin toss and will be the home team. Providence beat Tustin 66-41 Wednesday night.

“I’m so proud of our guys today, their efforts and their attitudes were great,” said Portola Coach Brian Smith. “They’ve been prepped all week. I’ve never seen our team more ready than they were today. Just the buzz around school was good today…..their mental approach was awesome. They were just focused.

“Dana Hills is a really great team, so we just beat a really quality opponent.”

Portola, the Pacific Coast League champion, brought its A game to the opener, playing aggressively and with great execution. And the Bulldog fans, including the student rooters, were into it too.

It’s the second year that Portola has been in the CIF playoffs. Last year, the Bulldogs defeated Santiago on the road before losing to Moorpark 65-50 in the second round at home.


Portola’s players came out determined to get the first CIF playoff home win.

“Getting that home win in front of a great crowd, I’m so proud of our kids,” Smith said. “Our student body came out, our teachers came out, admin was here. It was awesome to see the turnout tonight.”

Portola had a balanced scoring attack, led by Moshen Hashemi, who poured in 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Robert Giraldy scored 12 points and Soma Doherty 10 points.

Dana Hills (18-9) was led by Nathan Martin, who scored 11 points and Grayson Holtby and Carson Faulkner, who had nine points each.

Hashemi scored 10 points in the first half to help Portola jump to a 27-23 lead at halftime.

Then, Giraldy, who was scoreless in the first half, got going in the third quarter sinking three 3-pointers to help the Bulldogs extend their lead to 42-33 going into the final stanza.

“I started off the first half slow and Iwas just trying to find a rhythm for me and my teammates because they play solid defense,” Giraldy said. “We had to come out and be sharp and make crisp passes, no turning the ball over. That’s really what worked for us in the second half and just hitting jumpers too, we didn’t really hit any jumpers in the first half.”

The closest that Dana Hills could get after that was nine points, even with Hashemi out for a couple minutes after picking up his fourth foul.

“The crowd always helps, I love to see people show up and it brings energy to the players,” Giraldy said.

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