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Defense sparks Trabuco Hills boys basketball’s lopsided win over Capistrano Valley

MISSION VIEJO — The Trabuco Hills boys basketball team used its senior leadership and experience to overwhelm Capistrano Valley in a 57-36 rout Friday at Capistrano Valley High.

The game was the South Coast League opener for Trabuco Hills (16-5, 1-0), which is ranked No. 11 in the Orange County Top 25.

Capistrano Valley (11-11, 1-1) was coming off a 40-39 win over Tesoro in its league opener Wednesday.

“It doesn’t matter what the records are, to come in here and get a win at Capo, specifically to start league, is massive,” Trabuco Hills coach Sean Sullens said.

It was the first time Trabuco Hills has won a game at Capo Valley since 2013 when the Mustangs won 48-46. That victory was Sullens’ first time facing the Cougars as the head coach at Trabuco Hills.

Trabuco Hills’ defense sparked the lopsided result Friday. The Mustangs allowed just seven second-chance points and nearly all of Capo Valley’s shots were contested.

Sullens credits the team’s seniors for the defensive success.

“When you start five seniors, you should defend like we did tonight,” Sullens said. “The five senior starters all have experience starting in the South Coast League and with our length, it’s good to hold them to 36.”

“We didn’t want anything to be easy and realistically nothing was.”

A key to the Mustangs’ success on both ends of the court was center Matt Mowers, who was playing in his first game after missing a month due to injury. The senior had nine points with six assists and two blocks.

“He’s kind of like a safety blanket for us,” senior Sam Meza-Tallada said of Mowers. “It feels great to have him on our side.”

Meza-Tallada led the Mustangs with 13 points, and nine of his points came in the second quarter when the Mustangs built a 20-point lead.

Arshia Amini had nine points for Trabuco Hills and Jordan Nguyen had eight points, six rebounds and four assists.

Trabuco Hills shot 50 percent from 3-point range in the first half and 41 percent for the game.

“We weren’t rushing anything,” Sullens said. “In games that we have struggled, we were shooting early-shot clock 3s. Nearly all of our 3s were quality, open shots that we would give ‘A’ grades to.”

Gabe WIlliams led the Cougars with nine points on three 3-pointers. Tyler Davis gave the Cougars quality defensive minutes off the bench and had two steals.

Both teams and their coaches seemed to enjoy the atmosphere Friday, which featured a nearly full gym with loud groups of student sections from both schools.

“It’s fantastic,” Sullens said. “Any time we play another team in South County, the kids know each other. The crowds are fantastic and we love it.”

The Cougars will host San Juan Hills in a league game Wednesday.

Trabuco Hills will play its first home game of the season Wednesday against Tesoro.

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