Physical. That is the only word that can be used to describe the way the La Mirada Matadores’ play right now.
In a late Thursday night game at Bonita High School, The Matadores (13-5) defeated the St. Anthony Saints (8-6) 60-49.
This was the second matchup between the two schools, something rarely seen nowaday. “When you beat a team like St. Anthony twice, it is hard to do,” Coach Randy Oronoz of La Mirada said about playing teams twice.
Coach Dave Martinez of the Matadores also emphasized the importance of this win, “Probably the most difficult thing to do is to beat a team [St.Anthony] twice that’s not in your league.”
The Mats are going to have to do it once more when they take on the Campbell Hall Vikings tonight in the finals for the Silver Division of The Classic at Damien.
In a defensive battle, the first three quarters ended with the scores within one point of each other or tied. Recently, this La Mirada defense has been outstanding, allowing an average of 50.7 points per game in their last four, which is quite impressive if you look at the opponents, Riverside Poly, Orange Lutheran, and St. Anthony-all Division One in the Southern Section. Sophomore guard #0 Chris Perez was the defensive leader out there. He was all over the passing lanes, not allowing anything easy. He set the tone for the Matadores’ energy.
Sophomore guard #3 Julien Gomez had another stellar night, featuring a team leading 29 points. He helped the Matadores close out the game with his knockdown three point shooting.
Junior forward #2 Isaiah Valenzuela only had three points tonight, but they were arguably the most important. He made a big three early in the fourth quarter, putting the Matadores up by four making the score 44-40.
POST GAME: Interview with Coach Randy Oronoz of @Basketball_LM, speaking on the 60-49 win over St. Anthony. @LaMiradaBlog @SGVNSports @James_Escarcega pic.twitter.com/DkED3XWn8w— Gabriel Duarte (@GabrielNDuarte_) December 30, 2022
From that point onward the Matadores didn’t look back, going on a 16-9 run to end the game. Sophomore big man #24 MJ Smith’s performance cannot be overlooked either scoring eight points, all coming from inside the paint where he dominated on both ends of the court.
St. Anthony’s leading scorer was Junior #23 Amaan Zavahir with 15 points. St. Anthony had a lot of self-inflicted wounds, which included a rash of travel calls and missed shots. However, the Saints really played excellent defense up until the fourth quarter, limiting the potent Matador offense to just 39 points.
St. Anthony will take on the St. Francis Golden Knight at Charter Oak High School tonight at 8:00 p.m. in a consolation contest.
La Mirada/Campbell Hall will also tip-off tonight at the Damien Event Center at 8:00 p.m. for the Silver Division Championship.
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