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January 31, 2013

JSerra takes down Servite



SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. - A Trinity League game between San Juan Capistrano (Calif.) JSerra and Anaheim (Calif.) Servite that was supposed tip at 7 p.m., didn't start until 40 minutes later.

A halftime that usually lasts 10 minutes, lasted 30. And a 32-minute game that usually lasts a hour, at most, went double the time.

All the delay was for good cause, as JSerra honored its senior players and cheer squad members, but the pace and rhythm of the game was the victim.

JSerra defeated visiting Servite, 57-43, Wednesday night, but neither team seemed able to find its footing.

As JSerra head coach Joedy Gardner said after the game, he wanted to get each of his seniors into the rotation not just for a few minutes, but for the game in its entirety.

Five of the six Lions seniors on hand started, with two of them, 2013 prospect Jamal Aytes and USC-commit Devon Pflueger, being regular starters.

Gardner kept three five-man rotations going throughout the contest, which limited the minutes of every player, including 2015 prospect Rex Pflueger and 2014 point guard Johnnie Vassar.

But the best of the JSerra players didn't mind less playing time at all, cheering on each and every senior as they put up multiple shot attempts en route to the win.

The Lions didn't have an easy game to say the least, however, as the Friars are one of the more feared Orange County teams.

Servite is not feared because of any one player, or its record, but rather their knack for upsetting top-ranked Orange County opponents.

The Friars have defeated Lake Forest (Calif.) El Toro and Orange (Calif.) Lutheran this season, two teams that are currently ranked No. 3 and No. 6 in Orange County, respectively.

Servite hung within 14 points at halftime, and went into the fourth down 16, but never seemed to lose confidence.

JSerra opened the fourth quarter with a quick run to extend its lead to 20, but Servite answered with a 7-0 run of its own to cut the lead to 13 and gain back the momentum that was so difficult to find.

The Lions reclaimed the momentum on back-to-back 3-pointers from Ege Nurulke and Rex Pflueger, pushing the lead back to 19.

After the Pflueger 3 and a Servite turnover, Gardner took a quick timeout - one in which he said Aytes came to him with an idea.

"Jamal (Aytes) said he wanted to run 'tops,'" he said. "We have a lot of lob plays, so I told them to go out there and run it."

The inbound pass went to Vassar, and he in turn threw a back-door lob to Aytes, who finished with an electric one-handed dunk, sending the JSerra faithful into a frenzy.

Aytes finished with 10 points and nine rebounds, while Rex Pflueger added seven with five assists.

Fourteen JSerra players played on the evening, with 11 of them in the scoring column.

Devin UglandDevin Ugland
GOAZCATS.com West Coast recruiting analyst

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