May 17, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Strong defensive effort lifts San Clemente past Portola in North-South Challenge

San Clemente’s Asher Gardiner was MVP in the Tritons’ victory over Portola. (Photos: Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone).

San Clemente’s boys basketball team took charge in the second quarter and went on to defeat Portola 69-43 in the North-South Challenge Tuesday afternoon at Tesoro.

Senior forward Asher Gardiner, named the game’s MVP, led the Triitons with 20 points. Alec Grace scored 16 points and Charlie Spaeth had 10 points.

San Clemente Coach Marc Popovich was impressed with the effort of his team.

“We were connected out there defensively,” he said. “We talked, we moved, we rebounded really well today and that led to our transition game, that was the big key to the second half, getting them running.

“We’ve been emphaszing that the last two weeks of practice, being able to run and get those type of baskets.”

To see more photos, click on the first picture:

San Clemente led 29-17 at halftime and came out fast in the third quarter to build the lead to 40-19 in the third quarter, prompting Bulldogs Coach Brian Smith to call timeout to try and fire his team up. Portola answered with seven straight points to cut the lead to 40-26 but San Clemente (8-4) regained control.

Devin Daniel scored 11 points and Eugene Jung 10 for Portola (7-5).

San Clemente, after making just 2 of 8 free throws in the first half, got untracked in the second half sinking 15 of 20 and with solid defense was able to maintain control.

“We had a great game today,” Gardiner said. “We all played collective, I don’t think we had one MVP. I think I played good but I think we all played as a team today. We got out and we ran, we rebounded well, we played great defense, it was just a great team win. We’ve been playing great this season, we definitely have much more to improve on. We had a bit of a shaky couple weeks, but right now, we’re starting to get to our peak.”

For more highlights from the North-South Challenge, click here.

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