By Jim Tortolano
The fire marshal probably wouldn’t have liked it, but the hometown fans were delighted.
A standing room only crowd at the venerable gymnasium on the Garden Grove High School campus groaned, cheered, gasped and finally watched history being made as the host Argonauts won the school’s first CIF-SS boys’ basketball title in the school’s 100-year history by defeating Fullerton 54-50 for the 4AA crown.
The Argonauts (now 22-8) have played – and won – two fistfuls of close games en route to a Golden West League title and now CIF gold. This one was no different. And the primary engine of those close victories was no different, either.
“I look smart,” said coach Brian Girard, “when I just tell Miguel to get the ball.”
That’s number 25, senior forward-center Miguel Ortega, who led his team with 18 points, 14 of them in the second half when the Argos broke open a close game to pull out to a 10-point lead at 40-30 in the third quarter.
The Indians were able to creep back, much of it on ace free throw shooting, hitting 11 of 12 from the line. One of those free throws knotted the score at 49-all and fans on both sides of the gym were on their feet shouting and cheering.
But Vidal Jimenez hit a three-pointer with 51.7 seconds to play to give Grove a lead it would not relinquish at 52-49. The swarming Fullerton defense suffered a momentary breakdown, and a long pass to Number 25 finished with a layup and a 54-49 margin.
The visitors managed one more free throw before time ran out, and Argo fans poured onto the hardwood to celebrate the historic triumph.
Players and students were giddy, but Girard sat for a long moment on a chair, looking a little worse for the wear for having gone through so many tight contests.
“I’m tired,” he said. “I’m tired. We’re not going to practice tomorrow. We’re taking the day off.”
Miguel’s brother Ivan finished with 12 points and Jimenez and Mendoza each had eight for Grove. Fullerton was led by Josiah Reed’s 18 points and Christian Hubbard’s 14.
Did I say finish? Not yet. Both teams have a chance for more glory and maybe make more history as they enter the CIF Southern California regionals next week.
In the CIF-SS 4A finals, Western (19-9) defeated Dos Pueblos 65-49 Friday night.
Categories: High school sports