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Lasers grind out win

Irvine Scene

Irvine Valley opens Orange Empire Conference with tough 46-40 win at Santa Ana.

January 07, 2012|By Joe Haakenson, Special to the Daily Pilot
(Courtesy of Paul…)

SANTA ANA — The Irvine Valley College men's basketball team opened up Orange Empire Conference play Friday night against Santa Ana College, and it was a good thing the game wasn't scored on style points.

Santa Ana likes to drag its opponents into the dirt and make it a scrap, and Friday's matchup certainly was grimy.

Irvine Valley (14-3, 1-0 in conference) made just 16 of 56 field goal attempts (28.6%) including a dismal one for 20 from beyond the three-point line, but still managed to emerge on top with a 46-40 victory.

"To get a win when we weren't functioning well, when we weren't shooting well, it's a sign of a good team," said Jerry Hernandez, now in his 17th year leading IVC's men's program. "[Santa Ana] controls the tempo with their offense, they're spread and deliberate, and they made us panic a little bit. We had some easy shots but they just weren't falling for us."

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Hernandez relies heavily on his starting guards, sophomores Kalob Hatcher and Ramon Mejia, but both suffered poor shooting nights. Hatcher did not connect on nine attempts and Mejia was two for 12.

But Hatcher hit some key free throws down the stretch and handled the ball while running down the clock in the final minutes, and Mejia, from Corona del Mar High, hit the Lasers' only three-pointer of the night.

Friday's win, though, required help from the bench, particularly Jose Vasquez and Michael Bolden, both who scored a team-high 10 points. Bolden, a freshman from Trabuco Hills High, also had the highlight play of the night, taking an alley-oop pass from Hatcher and throwing down a reverse dunk.

Both teams struggled offensively in the first half, which ended with Santa Ana on top, 21-19. But the Lasers had to feel pretty good about themselves, down only two despite going 0 for 12 on three-pointers and eight for 32 from the field overall.

Santa Ana went up, 27-24, on a three-pointer by Jayson Collins early in the second half. But that's when IVC's defense sparked a 12-0 run midway through the second half, the Lasers taking control.

"One zone we used with certain lineups had some success, and created some offensive opportunities," Hernandez said.

A dunk by Bolden on a fastbreak capped the run and gave the Lasers a 36-27 lead. Santa Ana got within four points with less than two minutes remaining, but never any closer and IVC held on to start off conference play on a good note.

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