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Capistrano Valley basketball advances to Division 1 semifinals with win over JSerra

06/02/2021, 10:15am PDT
By Steve Fryer

Landon Li makes clutch free throws in the fourth quarter of a win over JSerra

Please visit the article at the link below for the complete story and more photos!

By  | | Orange County Register

PUBLISHED: June 1, 2021 at 11:24 p.m. | UPDATED: June 2, 2021 at 12:56 a.m.

MISSION VIEJO – The Capistrano Valley boys basketball results show the same information, game after game. The scoring leaders will be seniors Langston Redfield and twin brothers Aidan and Gavin O’Neill.

A team isn’t going to win a league championship and 88 percent of its games and get to the CIF Southern Section semifinals without role players.

Capistrano Valley senior guard Landon Li was that important role player Tuesday. The 6-foot Li was 6 for 6 at the free throw line in the fourth quarter and finished the game with 10 rebounds in the Cougars’ 57-50 win over JSerra in a CIF-SS Division 1 quarterfinal at Capistrano Valley High.

The Cougars (14-2) will play Heritage Christian (20-6) in a Division 1 semifinal Friday at Heritage Christian in Northridge. Heritage Christian defeated Windward 64-54 in a quarterfinal Tuesday.

Redfield scored 18 points with 10 rebounds and six assists. Gavin O’Neill scored 17 points with five 3-pointers. Aidan scored eight points with eight rebounds.

Li took three shots. He missed a 3 in the first quarter, did not attempt a shot in the second quarter, missed a two-point try in the third quarter and on his third and final shot attempt made a 3 at the end of third quarter to give the Cougars a 46-29 lead going into the fourth quarter.

JSerra rallied. Isaac Peralta scored nine of his 15 points in the fourth quarter and Robert Diaz added seven points in the final eight minutes. The Lions trailed by six points when the game went into its final minute and had to foul the Cougars in an effort to stop the clock and regain possession of the basketball.

Li in the final 47 seconds was 6 for 6 at the line.

“Landon Li is a senior,” said Capistrano Valley coach Brian Mulligan. “He stepped up, made all his free throws, didn’t turn the ball over and just took care of business.”

Diaz, a 6-2 junior guard, finished with 16 points. He scored nine in the first quarter as the Lions built a 10-point lead and carried a 19-10 advantage into the second quarter.

Gavin O’Neill took over in the second quarter, making four 3s and scoring 14 of the Cougars’ 24 points in the quarter.

Redfield made a couple of splendid plays in the quarter. Coming down with an offensive rebound, Redfield wound up sitting on the floor where he threw a bounce pass to the cutting Gavin O’Neill for a layup. He also made a 3 on the Cougars’ next possession and put in a driving layup as Capistrano Valley moved ahead.

JSerra finished the season 14-13. The Lions, coached by former Capistrano Valley basketball standout Keith Wilkinson who also played at USC, played a rugged schedule, including going 4-6 in the Trinity League in which they defeated Santa Margarita and beat Servite twice. One of their losses was to Capistrano Valley 63-57 on March 29.

Capistrano Valley, No. 2 in the final Orange County top 25, held No. 6 JSerra to nine points in the second quarter to take a 34-28 lead into halftime.

It was during the second quarter that the Cougars switched to a zone defense and Mulligans’s move paid off, especially in the third quarter in which JSerra was outscored 12-1 and missed their eight shots. Capistrano Valley scored 12 in the quarter to take its 46-29 lead into the final quarter.

The Cougars, the South Coast League co-champions with San Clemente, mostly relies on its man-to-man defense.

“We used a zone a little last game,” said Mulligan, referring to the Cougars’ 78-52 win Friday over Rancho Christian in the second round. “We haven’t used it all season, but it’s been good for us over time. It ruined their (the Lions’) rhythm a little.”

Good defense, star players doing star-player things, and good contributions from role players like Li got Capistrano Valley another win.

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