July 18, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: Santa Ana holds off Saddleback rally to win 49-39 and earn CIF playoff berth

Santa Ana players including No. 0 Isaac Blanco celebrate after defeating Saddleback Wednesday night. (Photos courtesy of Fernando M. Donado, For OC Sports Zone)

Santa Ana High’s boys basketball team looks to be playing the best it has all season.

The Saints locked up second place in the Orange Coast League and a CIF 5A playoff berth defeating Saddleback 49-39 Wednesday night at Santa Ana.

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

“We’re the outright second place team,” said Santa Ana Coach Fareed ElMasry. “It’s the second year in a row we’ve been second. It would be nice to be first place one day.

“But our guys played hard today and we had some good wins on the road to really help put us in this position. We felt we dropped a couple. This is the first time we’ve put more than two wins together. It’s been a very up and down year for us, especially with our youth. I’m pretty proud of the way they came through.”

Santa Ana (14-12, 6-4) was led by junior center Sebastian Olvera, who had 11 points and 10 rebounds. Deaven Perez led the Saints in scoring with 12 points. Daniel Cruz had nine points. Saay Silvag scored nine points before leaving the game with an ankle injury in the third quarter and Xavier Valdovinos had six points, sinking two 3-pointers in the final quarter.

“In the beginning it was tough because we tried to gel with each other but it ended up working out so I’m happy about that,” Olvera. “We want to do as much damage as we can (in the playoffs) and have fun while we’re at it.”

Santa Ana led 27-10 at halftime after forcing 15 turnovers. Saddleback (6-22, 4-6) settled down in the third quarter and cut the lead to 11 points in the fourth quarter.

However, the Saints were too strong down the stretch, eliminating Saddleback from CIF playoff contention.

“We started out real slow, we had a couple turnovers and couldn’t make shots to start the game,” said Saddleback Coach Christopher Emaguna. “In the second half, we kind of picked it up. I felt in the second quarter we played much better defense and kind of slowed the game down.

“Our point guard, Alex Mena, was hurt today, last couple of games, that kind of hurt us. But all in all, I thought we had a really great season in year three I thought we made a really big improvement from one win to three wins last season to finishing with six and four in league. I’m really impressed with the guys and I think we will be a real contender next year with a lot of returning guys. I look forward to next season.”

Jonathan Argueta and Anthony Reyes led the Roadrunners with 10 points each.

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