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By C. Jayden Smith

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO – Capistrano Valley Christian utilized a strong defensive performance down the stretch to hold off Downey, 60-51, on Friday, Feb. 11, in a CIF-SS Division 2AA first-round game at Capistrano Valley Christian School.

After the Vikings’ Marcus Sanchez hit two free throws to cut the Eagles’ lead to six with 2:31 left to play, Downey would not score another point.

Top-seeded CVC (19-7) advances to the Division 2AA second round, where it will host Crespi on Tuesday, Feb. 15.

It took a frantic effort from CVC to accomplish that, but it was not uncharacteristic from the rest of night.

Holding a 51-42 advantage heading into the fourth quarter, the Eagles struggled offensively in the half-court and shot 2 for 10 from the field. Their pressure, however, and an equal lack of open shot-making saw the Vikings only hit 2 of 12 shots.

CVC coach Christopher Childress believed that the defense carried the team through the win, saying that they wore out Downey, evidenced by Downey (18-10) missing shots that were makes in the first half.

“There’s going to be games like that – it’s a grind it out, playoffs, ‘win or go home’ (situation) – so I don’t expect for us to have good offensive games every game,” he said. “If our defense can carry us, we’ve done our job.”

The drop-off in the final frame likely was a surprise to most in the stands. The Eagles were on a roll throughout the majority of the first half, as they hit six 3-pointers en route to a 39-28 lead at the break.

Junior guard Eli Arthurton hit half of those, proving to be the difference in the first half with 11 points off the bench. Ariik Mawien followed close behind with 10, and Mac West scored nine.

The three all struggled in the second half as well as the entire team, but it was the senior, Bence Duka, whose two buckets were the only field goals the Eagles made in the final frame, who helped pull through the victory.

Duka did not miss a shot in the second half, scoring nine points of his game-high 16.

He said that he kept his energy up and used his drive to win to help the team succeed.

“The whole team had energy, on the bench and on the court, too,” Duka said. “That’s how we won.”

C. Jayden Smith graduated from Dana Hills High in 2018 before pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in digital and broadcast journalism from the University of North Texas. After graduating in December 2020, he reported for the Salina Journal in Salina, Kansas. Jayden loves college football and bothering his black lab named Shadow.

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