DANA POINT — The Aliso Niguel boys basketball team has been focusing on defense all season.
On Friday it showed its hard work paid off.
The Wolverines made some key stops down the stretch as they took down Dana Hills, 71-65 on its home court.
It was a win that Aliso Niguel coach Keith Barnett said they needed in the Sea View League.
“This was an important game for us,” Aliso Niguel coach Keith Barnett said. “I thought we did a much better job defensively. I’m real proud of my guys.”
While the Wolverines’ defense shined, the offense started the game with san 8-0 run forcing the Dolphins to take a time out.
Following a quick time out, the Dolphins found their rhythm as brothers Griffin and Collin Haugh each hit a 3-pointer followed by a third outside shot from Christian Boehmer.
Dana Hills finally caught Aliso Niguel with 24 second remaining in the corner when Griffin Haugh scored.
The only problem was that Wolverines’ senior Tyler Weaver matched the shot with a 3-pointer to end the quarter with a 26-24 advantage.
“The pick and roll and me and Brandon (Novida) showed it was hard to guard so we kept it with the flow we were having,” Weaver said.
Weaver has been Aliso Niguel’s motor all season.
He’s scored at least 20 points in his last four games.
And it didn’t stop there.
He finished with a game-high 35 points and kept Aliso Niguel’s student section on its feet.
“He’s actually a pretty quiet kid but when you put him on the floor he gets really, really competitive.,” Barnett said with a smile.
But the Dolphins answered in the second quarter as Collin Haugh, a freshman, chipped in eight points in the quarter and led his team into halftime with a 40-36 lead.
“He never looses his confidence,” Dana Hills coach Tom Desiano said of Collin.
Griffin Haugh also finished with 18 points.
After allowing 40 points in the first half, Aliso Niguel’s defense tightened up.
Adam Pellini hit a 3-pointer and Griffin Haugh hit some shots, but the Dolphins were held to just 11 points in the third quarter.
“When we defend really well it gives us good energy,” Barnett said. “We did a better Jon in the second half containing the dribble and not getting beat off of penetration.”
Aliso Niguel’s offense also capitalized. Novida started to find his touch, scoring six of his 18 points in the quarter and the Wolverines held a 57-51 lead.
Dana Hills put together one final run in the fourth quarter when it tied the game with 5:31 left, but could never regain the lead.
The Dolphins had one final chance to tie the game with 43 seconds left but they mishandled the ball out of bounds sealing the win for the Wolverines.
Desiano said the backbreaker was a step-back 3-pointer by Novida with about two minutes left and the Dolphins could never recover.
“We didn’t lose the game, (Aliso Niguel) won it,” Desiano said. “If a kid can make that kind of shot, my hat’s off to him. This was just a great high school game for both teams.”
Dana Hills doesn’t have time to rest, their next league game is next Friday against San Juan Hills, who beat Aliso Niguel just last week.
A win could put all three teams into a three-way tie for first place in Sea View League play.
Aliso Niguel will host El Toro the same night.