The smiles on the Lasers bench were not indicative of their 18 turnovers. Their 18 turnovers, in turn, were not indicative of the scoreboard.
Six players scored in double-figures Friday for the Irvine Valley men’s basketball team in its 90-75 first-round playoff victory over visiting College of the Desert.
And despite being out-rebounded 50-45 and getting into early foul trouble, the Lasers (27-4) still managed to turn a eight-point half time lead into a ticket to LA Trade Tech, which pulled out a 83-81 home victory over Cerritos College last Saturday.
“We have to focus this week,” said Jeff Ledbetter, who had six rebounds. “We are going against Trade Tech, a team we lost to earlier in the year, and we are going into their house. Hopefully this time we will get the win that we need.”
The Lasers second loss of the season came at the hands of the Beavers in the first round of the Saddleback Tournament on Dec. 13.
Since then, IVC has won 16 of its last 18 games with a balanced attack across the board. Friday was no exception.
Leading the way on both offense and defense, sophomore Blake Wallace finished with a team-high 13 rebounds to go with 12 points.
Teammates Perry Webster and Kashif Watson also had 12 point apiece, while sophomore guard Jason Toney chipped in 10.
Sophomore center Bryce Webster, who was bogged down by early foul trouble and forced to sit the majority of the first half, scored all 13 of his points in the second half on 5-of-6 shooting form the field.
Franklin Session had a team-high 16 points off the bench for IVC, which didn’t have an answer for Roadrunners Julius Lang. Lang had 26 points and 17 rebounds.
“I didn’t think we were very sharp and we were a little heavy-legged (in the first half),” said Lasers coach Jerry Hernandez.
The Lasers, who still shot 61.5 percent in the half to take an eight-point lead at half time Friday, will look to have an answer for LA Trade Tech’s starting five, who, like the Lasers, are all a consistant threat to score in double-figures on any given night. The No. 3 seed Beavers have won 12 of their last 13 games, but lost their season finale at Pasadena College, 105-83 to drop from No. 1 to No. 7 in the state rankings.
The Lasers can relate. IVC has consistently been ranked in the top ten teams in the state, reaching as high as No. 2 before hitting a two-game skid against Fullerton and Riverside.
“We aren’t overconfident,” Ledbetter said. “We played bad tonight, but we still pulled it off against a good team.”
The Lasers will make their second trip to the regional final in program history Saturday at 7 p.m. hoping for a different result than their 2001-02 loss to Cerritos.
If IVC wins, it will advance to its first state tournament.
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