It can be very difficult to win a boys' basketball championship on the strength of just one outstanding player. Still, having that go-to guy is almost mandatory these days.
But when top-seeded El Toro tries to win the Southern Section Division 1A title tonight at Anaheim Convention Center Arena, the Chargers will be spreading the load.
The balanced Chargers (27-5) have seemingly found new guys to step to the front all season, and will be looking to continue that model of operation—and success—when they take on Santa Monica (24-6).
El Toro comes into the game ranked No. 26 in the state by Maxpreps, while second-seeded Santa Monica is No. 21 in the computer-generated listing of the state's best teams.
The Chargers have won seven in a row since losing to Mission Viejo, 66-60, and sharing the South Coast League title with the Diablos—who were beaten in the quarterfinals by Inglewood in the Division 1AA playoffs.
- Boys' Basketball Southern Section Division 1A Championship
- No. 1 El Toro (27-5) vs. No. 2 Santa Monica (24-6)
- Anaheim Convention Center Arena
- Game time: 6 p.m.
- Tickets: $13, $7, $7
- Parking: $12
- Preceding game, 2AA: No. 1 Riverside North (27-3) vs. No. 3 Villa Park (24-6)
- Succeeding game, 1AA: No. 1 Mater Dei (30-1) vs. No. 6 Etiwanda (26-2)
In El Toro's four playoff victories in Division 1A, either Tanner Aguera or Ryan Roberts has led the Chargers in scoring, but in all four games there has been at least three and as many as five players who have scored in double figures. During the winning streak, Cody White also scored a team-high for El Toro.
Yet on the season, only White (11.1 points) and Roberts (10.4) averaged double-figure scoring.
Aguera has averaged a modest 8.9 points per game, but he dropped 20 on Long Beach Cabrillo in the first round—a game El Toro won by only three points, 65-62—and Crescenta Valley in the semifinals. He has scored at least 10 points in seven of the last eight games.
Same with Roberts, who scored only three in the 68-38 win over Crescenta Valley; during the six games prior to the semifinals, he averaged 15.5.
The top six scorerers for El Toro averge between White's 11.1 and Sean Harman's 8.4, yet any of them could deliver 15 or 20 points, depending on how the night goes.
Liam Skelly, who averaged 9.4 points on the season, scored a season-high 25 in a 75-70 victory over Fountain Valley. That's the kind of balance, and the threat, that has made El Toro so formidable.
The value of peaking in the playoffs can't be understated by most coaches, and the Chargers seem to be doing that. And they have done it by not giving opponents someone to target.
It has worked almost every game this season.
They hope it will work for one more.
BOYS' BASKETBALL SOUTHERN SECTION CHAMPIONSHIPS
SCHEDULE FOR SATURDAY, MARCH 2, 2013
ANAHEIM CONVENTION CENTER ARENA
- Boys 3A—St. John Bosco vs. Chaminade, 10 a.m.
- Boys 4AA—La Verne Lutheran vs. Gardena Serra, noon
- Boys 2A—Westlake vs. Redondo Union, 2 p.m.
- Boys 2AA—Riverside North vs. Villa Park, 4 p.m.
- Boys 1A—El Toro vs. Santa Monica, 6 p.m.
- Boys 1AA—Mater Dei vs. Etiwanda, 8:30 p.m.