Hoops: Loss doesn't ruin Eagles' day

Hoops: Loss doesn't ruin Eagles' day

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Hoops: Loss doesn't ruin Eagles' day

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SANTA ANA

As the final seconds ticked away on Saturday’s Division VI CIF boys’ basketball final, the reaction of the Desert Chapel players may have seemed odd.

In front of an almost full gymnasium at Godinez High School in Santa Ana, they were on the wrong end of a 77-52 score. The Eagles were outplayed by a talented top-seeded Trinity Classical Academy, but when the game ended there were no tears. There was no dejection.

Instead the Eagles players hugged each other and smiled, knowing how far they had come in two years.

After all, this is a place they could have only imagined being two years ago. The Eagles (24-4) finished that season 12-14. The year before, they were just 6-17.

“We wanted to create an identity,” Coach Alvarez said. “To play with intensity and focus and get up and down the court.”

The memories of 2012 have faded. The Eagles entered Saturday on a 16-game winning streak. Their last loss was back in 2013.

“Where we were to where we are now, it’s just amazing,” said senior Taner Alvarez, who scored 14 points and added 13 rebounds, five assists and four steals in the defeat.

Trinity came out aggressive from the opening tip, pressuring the ball on defense and lighting it up from beyond the arc offensively.

The Eagles took an early advantage, yet could not overcome Trinity’s defensive intensity and offensive efficiency for the final three quarters.

Eagles big man Roman Pellum, a New Mexico State recruit in football, bullied his way in the paint to 25 points and 12 boards and point guard Jaleel Miles finished with eight points, six assists and 5 rebounds.

That wasn’t enough to overcome a huge night from Trinity guard Ian Caddow, who led the way with 39 points and five 3-pointers.

Michael Mateo added 13 points and Ryan Brooks had 11 for the Knights.

Said the 6-foot-4, 240-pound Pellum, “I’m just so proud of my team. We have like 50 kids at our school, but we were able to do something nobody thought we could.”

And the Eagles will have a chance to further the legacy of this season with a rare opportunity to complete for a state title in the state tournament starting next week.

Both Trinity and Desert Chapel, the two finalists from Division 6, will be moved be moved up to Division V tournament, against top teams throughout the California. The draw will be released on Sunday.

“Hopefully we can make some noise,” Alvarez said, “and complete this run.”

And completely erase any lingering thoughts about where this team was just two years ago.

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