A year ago, Mission Viejo went to Orange Lutheran to play the Southern Section Division 1A championship and fell victim to the magic of Gabe York.
A year later, the magic belonged to Evan Zeller.
The Mission Viejo senior made the go ahead—and ultimately decisive—free throws with 29 seconds left in the game to give the fourth-seeded Diablos a 64-63 victory at 13th-seeded Orange Lutheran.
Over the last 1 1/2 minutes, there were four lead changes, the last coming off the fingertips of Zeller.
He scored a game-high 18, including the clutch free throws with his team trailing, 63-62, in the last half minute.
Teammate Chandler Hutchison, who scored 16, missed two free throws with three seconds left that would have provided some breathing room, and that gave Lutheran a chance to win it at the end. Payton Banks, who scored 15, rebounded Hutchison's miss and a couple dribbles later heaved a 35-foot shot at the buzzer that missed its mark.
Mission Viejo (26-3), which also got 13 points from Max Redfield, advances to the quarterfinals on Friday at 12th-seeded Inglewood (17-9). Lutheran, which trailed 54-49 going into the fourth quarter, finished 18-10.
In other Division 1A games, second round
(1) El Toro 64, Diamond Bar 50—With leading scorer Cody White unable to play because of a suspension—for receiving two technical fouls in the Chargers’ first-round playoff game—Ryan Roberts scored 16 points to help the top-seeded team win at Diamond Bar (13-15). El Toro, which trailed in the fourth quarter in its narrow first-round victory over Long Beach Cabrillo, wasn’t in such dire straits in the second round; however, the Chargers did fall behind early, 14-7, after one quarter before seizing control. An 18-3 advantage in the third quarter stretched a seven-point lead to an insurmountable 22. Liam Skelly added 11 points, and Jake Lunardi and Tanner Aguera added 10 apiece. The Chargers on Friday will play in the quarterfinals at ninth-seeded Corona Santiago, a 52-49 winner over Cypress.
Long Beach Millikan 82, (5) San Clemente 72—The Tritons (18-11) were outscored 35-27 in the first half and fell at Millikan. Five players scored in double figures for San Clemente, including Brock Eissman (17 points), Nick Crankshaw (14), Jimmy Bankson (13) and Jake Terkoski (13), who had 11 rebounds. Cody Bean scored 11 with six assists.
(6) Dana Hills 52, Troy 38—The Dolphins (22-7) held Troy to only 15 points in the second and third quarters to score the victory in Fullerton. Hayden Fredrick led Dana Hills with 17 points and Cory Blau had 16. The Dolphins on Friday will play host to third-seeded West Ranch.
(7) Aliso Niguel 64, Valencia 52—The Wolverines had one of the toughest tasks of the nights, traveling to Valencia to take on the Vikings. Aliso (21-9) pulled through on the strength of five players scoring in double figures: Scott Lynds (19 points), Mauricio Campos (14), Jake Smith (11), Kai Sato (10) and Ronnie Harris (10). Aliso led by three at halftime but outscored the home team, 15-9, in the third quarter. The Wolverines on Friday will play host to second-seeded Santa Monica, a 58-46 winner over Burbank.
Division 2A, second round
(1) Westlake 87, (16) Newport Harbor 78—The Sailors (14-14) put up a huge fight against the heavy favorite, trailing by only three points going into the fourth quarter. Nic Sergeant scored a team-high 23 points and Kevin Rakestraw 19 to go along with 15 rebounds and five blocked shots. Sergeant also had eight steals. Zach Wade scored 15 and had eight rebounds in the losing effort. Ultimately, the 10 three-point baskets by the Warriors (26-2) was too much to overcome.
(5) Tesoro 67, Perris Citrus Hill 55—The Titans (20-9), who won only two of eight South Coast League games, have been more than ready for the playoffs. Tied at 35 at haltime, Tesoro scored a 14-7 advantage in the third quarter. Tanner Lancona scored 15 and had 13 rebounds for the Titans, while Conrad Snyder scored 14, Austin Channer 13 and John Perkins 11. On Friday in the quarterfinals, Tesoro will play host to 13th-seeded Goleta Dos Pueblos.
Division 3AA, quarterfinals
(5) Santa Margarita 63, (13) Pomona Diamond Ranch 45—After losing 11 in a row to end the regular season, Santa Margarita (15-14) is one victory from playing for the section title. The Eagles won on the strength of the first and third quarters as they outscored Diamond Ranch 18-9 in each. In a Friday semifinal, they will play host to top-seeded Lawndale Leuzinger (22-7), which scored a 79-57 victory over Atascadero.
(3) Corona del Mar 83, (6) San Marcos 62—Led by Max Stone with 22 points and Blake Grable with 21, Corona del Mar (21-9) advanced to the semifinals where the Sea Kings will play host to La Verne Damien on Friday. CdM held a two-point lead after the first quarter, but outscored San Marcos in the second and third quarters, 42-20.
Division 4AA, quarterfinals
(4) Gardena Serra 69, (3) JSerra 66—The Lions couldn’t hold a four-point lead over the final 71 seconds and went down to defeat when Serra’s Jeremy Wright connected on a three-point basket as time ran out. JSerra trailed by eight points going into the fourth quarter before rallying on the opposition’s home court, and the hardy fourth quarter effort had the Lions poised to win. But Serra managed to get a couple of key rebounds after missing the second of two free throw attempts, and those second chances hurt the Lions. Jamal Aytes led JSerra with 19 points, and Rex Pflueger scoresd 17, Johnnie Vasser 11 and Nick Pallas 10.
Division 4A, quarterfinals
(2) Brentwood 78, (8) St. Margaret’s 57—The Tartans (19-9) lost on the road despite 17 points by Brent Cahill.