Dos Pueblos had a tall order Tuesday night in its CIF 1-A second-round playoff game. Los Alamitos, the defending CIF 1-A champion and repeat Sunset League champs, came to town with an imposing front line featuring 6-foot-10 Corbin Moore.
The Chargers proved inhospitable hosts, however, as they kept their season going with a 61-51 victory.
As usual, the Chargers were led by Sean Park, who scored a game-high 22 points. Ryan Beall chipped in 16, along with 10 rebounds (statistics unofficial). Dos Pueblos also got a huge contribution from its center tandem of Ben Johnson and Malik Heptot, as they evenly divided 12 points and eight rebounds. Heptot also chipped in two blocked shots. Meanwhile, 5-foot-10 Daniel Placencia had six points at key moments, as well as a surprising — since there were players a foot taller battling him — five rebounds, two on the offensive end.
The Chargers surged to a quick 11-3 lead, as Beall and Park combined for two early steals at the top of the key, with Beall getting both finishes. Los Alamitos, which never led in the game, fought back, tying the score at 11. Dos Pueblos went on a 22-3 run, however, as Beall (four assists) drove the lane three times to feed Heptot, Park twice made three point plays, and Evan Muñoz threw in his specialty, a three-pointer.
Meanwhile, the Chargers’ defense swarmed all over the Griffins, cutting off almost any easy shots. Los Alamitos finally found a way to score a couple of buckets, but Park’s basket with one second to go (his 14th point of the first half) made the score, 37-22, at halftime.
The Chargers could muster little offense in the third quarter, but Beall, who had six of the eight DP points in the quarter, answered the few Griffins baskets, and the quarter ended with DP still sporting a 45-33 lead. Despite two early baskets from Park in the fourth, a run by the Griffins, led by Moore and Paul Richardson, who each had 16 points, cut the lead to 49-42, and, in the sequence, Beall and Park picked up their fourth fouls.
Those Griffin fans who made the long drive were screaming. The Chargers needed a hoop, and Beall drove the baseline, but his 15-footer was short. Fortunately, Park was there with a beautiful tip-in. Los Alamitos missed a three, and Beall grabbed the rebound. Too many Griffins attempted to harass him in the backcourt, and he fired a long pass to Park, who found Johnson for the basket and the foul. Johnson missed the foul shot and Park picked Moore’s pocket after the rebound.
Park then scored despite Moore’s imposing presence. The lead was back to 13 in the blink of an eye. Park fouled out on the next possession, but Johnson tipped in a Beall miss, and the Chargers made enough free throws over the last three minutes to keep the lead at nine or more.
Dos Pueblos now will face either Etiwanda or Foothill in the quarterfinals Friday. The Chargers, winners of nine in a row and 14 of 15, are now 21-7. None of the current players (Park is a four-year varsity player) have won 20 games in a season. None have been to the CIF quarterfinals in basketball. They’re the last South Coast team alive in the playoffs. Friday night they’ll attempt to push the season into the last possible week.
Will Beall is a Dos Pueblos High parent.