Poly Defenses Capo Valley, 68-44

When a team with three primary scorers like Capistrano Valley faces a team with tall, athletic defenders like Long Beach Poly, other players either have to step up or the team will get smunched. Tuesday evening, in CIF-Southern Section Div. I-AA semifinal play at Long Beach City College, the Cougars had nobody step up. Consequently, they got smunched, to the tune of 68-44.

By nobody, we mean nobody. The three-headed attack of Jake Franzen, Matt Sweany and Pete Decasas combined for 44 points. The rest of the Capo Valley team? Zero. Nada. Goose egg.

For a while, the trio kept the Cougars within shouting distance of the 27-3 Jackrabbits, who had dominated with defense in their run to the semifinals. Two triples from Franzen and another from Decasas staked Capo to a 13-9 lead midway through the first quarter.

That's when Poly hit the Cougars with a heavy dose of D. The Jackrabbits converted turnovers into easy buckets as part of an 11-0 run to close the quarter. Bobby Jones started the scoring skein with a third effort tip-in and finished the quarter with an alley-oop lay-in from Carlos Rivers at the buzzer, which gave Poly a seven-point lead, 20-13.

Capo Valley would not get within four points of Poly the rest of the way. A 32-26 halftime advantage grew to a 37-26 bulge on the strength of a Rivers trey and lay-up by Marcedes Lewis.

The Cougars had one more chance to claw back into the game – Poly shooting guard Barry Barnes was called for a T with 3:41 left in the third quarter and the free throws pulled Capo only six shy of the Jackrabbits, 40-34. But the technical fired up Barnes, who hit three three-pointers and a lay-up in the closing moments of the quarter, including one long-range jack at the horn – to extend Poly's lead to 50-36.

The Poly stars – Jones, Lewis and Reggie Butler – took turns exchanging highlight reel plays early in the fourth, including two sweet alley-oop jams by Butler, before being pulled in favor of the bench with about two minutes to play.

Barnes led four Poly players in double figures with 15 points. Jones and Rivers scored 13 apiece, while Butler chipped in with 12.

"We came out and executed," said Butler after the game. "We did what the coach said and followed the game plan to perfection."

Franzen led Capo Valley (24-7) with 18 points, while Sweany had 14 and Decasas 12. But the trio was largely ineffective after the first quarter, scoring most of their points from the charity stripe. The Cougars shot just 30 percent from the field for the game.

"We knew they had shooters," Butler explained. "They got some looks early, but for most of the game, I think we did a really good job of shutting them down."

Poly advances to the Div. I-AA title game against Eisenhower of Rialto, a winner over Long Beach Millikan. The game will be played Saturday evening at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim.

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