PUBLISHED: June 4, 2021 at 10:02 p.m. | UPDATED: June 4, 2021 at 10:02 p.m.
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NORTH HILLS –– Capistrano Valley’s Langston Redfield sat in the locker room frustrated with his first-half performance. His confidence was down, but Cougars coach Brian Mulligan reminded him of who he was.
“Coach came up to me and reminded me that I was the best player on the court,” Redfield said. “I just had to believe it and I knew my team needed me so I had to just get mine.”
Redfield showed up with a strong second half to lead Capistrano Valley to a 61-53 win against Heritage Christian on Friday in the CIF-SS Division 1 semifinals.
The Cougars will be home for the final against Chaminade on Wednesday, June 9. Chaminade defeated Bishop Montgomery 71-56 in the other semifinal.
“We feel really good and my guys played really hard,” Mulligan said. “They’re (Heritage Christian) really hard to play against, but I think we played really smart in moments we really had to.”
Heritage Chrisitan (20-7) had been challenged in the second round of the playoffs after blowing out its opponent in the first round. The Warriors came into the matchup confident, but ultimately couldn’t find a consistent rhythm.
“We came out and understood our game plan, which is something that we talked about all season,” Heritage Christian coach Paul Tait said. “Hats off to Capistrano Valley for making a couple more plays down the stretch than we did.”
Isaiah Elohim led the Warriors with 18 points, while Gavin O’Neill scored a game-leading 28 points for the Cougars. Redfiled added 13 points.
Capistrano Valley (15-2) was fully aware that Heritage Christian would have a size advantage in Friday’s game. The Warriors’ early plan was to take advantage in the post, but the Cougars stood their ground. All season Capistrano Valley had faced bigger opponents, so the lack of size wasn’t an issue.
“We boxed them and we rebounded well all game,” O’Neill said. “This group has so much heart and no one has ever given us a shot. Everywhere we go they laugh at us when we walk into the gym because we don’t look intimidating.”
Both teams came out with the usual playoff game jitters. Turnovers created a lack of offense on both sides. The Warriors and Cougars took highly contested shots in the paint, leading to multiple free throw attempts.
Elohim shined for the Warriors, hitting his first four shots and ending the half with 13 points.
O’Neill kept the Cougars in the game with 13 points in the first half, but they trailed 32-28 heading into the second half.
“We talked about just sticking with the game plan and we did,” Mulligan said.
The Cougars defense in the paint ramped up in the second half, forcing the Warriors to create shots on the perimeter. Capistrano Valley’s offense sparked a pivotal 10-4 run and it took the lead.
Heritage Christian cut the lead to 52-49 with 1:31 left in the game, but Capistrano Valley sealed the game with back-to-back transition layups.
“We only came together this year, but we’re brothers,” Redfield said. “We play for each other and we’re so proud.”