Los Angeles Preps: Aleks Lipovic

Westchester 45, Capo Valley 42

February, 4, 2012
SANTA ANA -- Longtime Westchester coach Ed Azzam usually knows which buttons to press and, perhaps more important, when to press them.

Well, he pressed "press" on Saturday afternoon, and the scheme helped Westchester to a 45-42 win against streaking Capistrano Valley in the Nike Extravaganza at Mater Dei.

The Comets (19-5), No. 14 in the ESPN Los Angeles prep basketball rankings, switched to a full-court press in the fourth quarter and quickly erased an eight-point deficit. They held Capistrano Valley (21-3) to a season-low in points.

The most important stop came in the waning moments. Westchester guard Jio Romano denied Aleks Lipovic a clean look in the final seconds, forcing Lipovic to give up the ball three times before a contested jump shot barely grazed the side of the rim.

South Coast League leader Capo Valley, ranked No. 16 by ESPN Los Angeles, had won nine straight.

Westchester shot only 35 percent (14 of 40), but still managed with intensity on defense. Je'ron Primus was the only Comets player to score in double digits with 15 but he only made three field goals. He was strong at the line, converting on eight of nine free throws.

Jonny Bates scored 17 and Lipovic 13 for the Cougars.

LAKE FOREST -- With 17 seniors on his team, Friday night wasn't the first time Capistrano Valley boys' basketball coach Brian Mulligan has said "they're supposed to do that."

But they did that again. They showed their composure and defeated Lake Forest El Toro, 52-49, inside a hostile gym. It helped Capo Valley take another step toward a South Coast League title as they improved to 20-2 overall, 6-0 in league.

El Toro, ranked No. 5 to Capo's No. 1 in the Southern Section Division 1A rankings, dropped to 18-6, 2-3.

This time the Cougars showed their experience by winning without their starting point guard, Nick Thomas, who injured his knee on Tuesday in practice. One doctor said it could sideline him for several weeks. Mulligan thinks it's a bruised kneecap. When Capo defeated El Toro 68-50 on Jan. 6, Thomas scored 26.

Aleks Lipovic moved from shooting guard to the point, and Danny Portillo stepped into the shooter's role. Coincidentally, Portillo scored three points -- same as the margin of victory.

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MISSION VIEJO -- Aleks Lipovic knew his shot was true from the moment it left his hand. When the ball fell through the hoop, Lipovic had buried a 3-point basket as well as Mission Viejo's 18-game winning streak.

Capistrano Valley, ranked No. 16 in the ESPNLA top 20, scored a 46-43 boys' basketball victory over the defending South Coast League champion.

Lipovic's big shot came with 31 seconds remaining, and it capped a comeback in which Capo Valley had trailed, 42-34, after Mission's Michael Cramer scored on a follow with 7 minutes 6 seconds left in the game. From that point on, Mission scored only one point.

Capo Valley (18-2, 4-0) is now in the driver's seat the for South Coast League title as Mission (18-2, 3-1) dropped to second place. The teams will play again on Feb. 9 in the league finale.

Nick Thomas scored 10 points for Capo Valley, and Johnny Bates had eight, including a three-pointer that pulled the Cougars to within 42-41 with 4:17 left.

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1. Mater Dei (15-2) — Trailed early against Orange Lutheran before Johnson and Johnson -- Xavier and Stanley -- took over. Next: vs. Middle Village (NY) Christ the King, Monday.

2. Capistrano Valley (17-2)Aleks Lipovic hangs 19 on Aliso Niguel and 22 on Dana Hills as Cougars’ win fifth in a row to set up huge South Coast showdown. Next: vs. Mission Viejo, Wednesday.

3. Mission Viejo (18-1) — Diablos have won 18 in a row, but trailed by five in fourth quarter to El Toro before pulling out 76-72 win behind Evan Zeller's 31 points. Next: at Capistrano Valley, Wednesday.

4. JSerra (12-5) -- Lions take care of business against York-less OLu, and Devon Pflueger and Reece Lemon scored season highs against Santa Margarita. Next: vs. Mater Dei, Friday.

5. Orange Lutheran (12-4) -- With Gabe York out with appendicitis for a second week, the Lancers lose their big gun -- and two in a row, to Mater Dei and JSerra. Next: vs. La Verne Lutheran, Monday.

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