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Los Alamitos basketball beats Santa Margarita in CIF-SS playoffs with strong team effort

LOS ALAMITOS – The Los Alamitos boys basketball team was going to need contributions from multiple players to beat Santa Margarita.

The Griffins got them in their 55-50 win over the Eagles in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs Wednesday at Los Alamitos High.

Los Alamitos sophomore Samori Guyness went into the game late in the third quarter and made his only shot of the game, a 3-pointer from the corner as time expired in the quarter.

Another reserve, junior Isaiah Wempe, beat the shot clock with a jump shot in the fourth quarter. And yet another reserve, sophomore Wes Trevino, made a fourth-quarter 3-pointer.

All of those baskets either returned momentum to Los Alamitos or extended it. In such a close game, all of those baskets were important.

“Everybody contributed,” said Griffins coach Nathan Berger. “Even people who didn’t check in were part of this win for us, and that’s what makes it so special for us tonight.”

The Griffins (23-6) will play at St. Paul (18-11) in a second-round game Friday. St. Paul upset Village Christian 51-49 Wednesday.

The Los Alamitos win over Santa Margarita (21-9) could be categorized as an upset. The Griffins were not in the final CIF-SS Division 1 top 16 poll that had Santa Margarita at No. 9.

Los Alamitos is No. 11 in the Orange County Top 25 and Santa Margarita is No. 5.

It was a revenge game, too, for Los Alamitos, which lost to Santa Margarita 72-65 in the first round of last season’s playoffs.

Los Alamitos 6-5 sophomore forward Trent Minter said the Griffins felt a bit overlooked and under-appreciated Wednesday.

“We went into it thinking, ‘oh, they don’t probably think much of us, we’re just a random public school in Orange County,’” Minter said. “We wanted to take it to ‘em and I think we did.”

Minter led Los Alamitos with 21 points and six rebounds. He scored six points in the fourth quarter.

Griffins sophomore guard Liam Gray scored six of his 15 points in the fourth quarter and was 8 of 10 at the free-throw line.

Santa Margarita’s Rockwell Reynolds was outstanding as usual. The 6-8 senior forward, who signed with Northern Arizona, scored 30 points with eight rebounds and was the only Eagle to score in double figures. He was 11 of 13 from the field and 7 of 9 at the free-throw line.

Minter scored the game’s first basket and Los Alamitos retained the lead from there.

The Griffins led 22-15 at halftime.

Reynolds kept the Eagles close, especially in the second half when he scored 22 point with all of his shots within 10 feet of the basket. He showed a deft ability to score inside with right-handed and left-handed shots off of the glass.

Guyness first entered the game with just over a minute to go in the third quarter. The first time he touched the ball, and the only shot he attempted, was a successful 3 from the corner in the final seconds of the quarter to give Los Alamitos a 35-29 lead.

Reynolds kept scoring in the fourth quarter but the Eagles could not get the margin below two points.

In the final six minutes Minter converted a three-point play, Gray made a 3, Minter hit a fallaway jump shot and Trevino made his 3.

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