High school sports

Aztecs get revenge on Saxons, 85-77

ANTHONY NGUYEN (3) played tough on defense and scored 44 points for La Quinta Tuesday night in the Aztecs’ 85-77 win over Loara (Tribune photo by Christopher Abdelmalek).

By Christopher Adbelmalek

Overcoming a loss to an opponent can be tough. Sometimes a close loss can stay with a team for a long time. (Ask any Cleveland Browns fan about “The Drive”). However, in basketball if you lose to a team one night, you have a chance at revenge later on in the season. Tonight, was a night for revenge as the La Quinta Aztecs hosted the Loara Saxons for a Tuesday night Garden Grove League game.

The Saxons handed the Aztecs their only loss in league play late last month with a thrilling 69-66 victory. This time around it was the Aztecs standing atop after the game with a huge comeback victory over the Saxons 85-77 behind Anthony Nguyen’s game-high 44 points.

The Saxons came out hot Tuesday opening the first quarter up to a four-point lead over the home team. Dakota Nanthavongdouansy lead the way for the red and whites in the first quarter with six points, while spreading the ball around like he was John Stockton running the point.

The game was close in the first quarter, however the Aztecs ratcheted up the defensive pressure late in the second and forced turnovers on four straight possessions with just under three minutes left in the first half. “We were focused on defense, defense, defense,” explain La Quinta coach March Sanchez. “They started to really see things and pick off the ball, especially number 3 (Nguyen) and 11 (Trung Huynh).” Nguyen was applying full-court and half-court pressure at all times from the second quarter on.

While playing stellar defense is cool, Nguyen was also putting up insane points. He sparked the Aztecs comeback in a wild fashion. He did most of his damage from behind the arc, hitting five threes in this game and shooting nearly perfect from the free throw line, hitting on 13 of 15. His aggressive play on offense and swarming defense allowed the Aztecs to run the Saxons right out the building.  “I think in the end they got every point they needed, we just scored more than them.” Sanchez said after the game.

Loara’s big man and leading scorer on the season, power forward Cade Flowers, was a bit of a no show tonight scoring 7 points collecting four fouls in the process. His size and strength were no match for the speed and quickness of the Aztecs offense and defense essentially making him a bystander in the game.

The other big man, center David Lucio, put up a team high 21 points while staying very active on the boards on both offense and defense. “We had about 20 different game plans, our main plan was to take away 35 (Flowers). I think we did a job at that,” Sanchez said after the game. “You can take away one thing and a good team will come back with something else,” Sanchez said in reference to Lucio’s offensive production.

La Quinta (11-12, 6-1) travel to Santiago High School (16-8, 5-2) on Friday Jan. 25 for another league game. Loara (14-11, 4-3) will host the bottom dwellers of the league Los Amigos High School (3-20, 1-6) on the same night. Both games are at 7 p.m.

Tuesday night local prep basketball scores (more results as they become available).

BOYS

  • Cypress 75, Pacifica 56
  • La Quinta 85, Loara 77
  • Orangewood Academy 60, Saddleback Valley Christian 59
  • Los Amigos 59, Rancho Alamitos 43
  • Bolsa Grande 58, Santiago 52.

GIRLS

  • Corona del Mar 40, Edison 39
  • Marina 52, Fountain Valley 39
  • Savanna 50, Magnolia 23
  • Huntington Beach 39, Los Alamitos 34
  • La Quinta 44, Loara 35
  • Orangewood Academy 66, Avalon 14
  • Santiago 49, Bolsa Grande 22.

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