IRVINE — Last season’s CIF Southern Section player of the year Koat Keat was unable to play for Crean Lutheran’s boys basketball team Thursday in the CIF Southern California Regional playoffs because of a sore knee.
Keat, a 6-10 senior who signed with UC Santa Barbara, wants to play Saturday. The Saints, though, would not be able to play Saturday unless they won Thursday.
Keat indirectly asked teammate Vyctorious Miller for a favor.
“He said, ‘Maybe I’ll come back next game,’” Miller said. “So I had to go crazy.”
Miller scored 26 points with eight rebounds to lead Crean Lutheran to a 68-50 win over La Costa Canyon in a the second round of the CIF SoCal Division I regional at Crean Lutheran High.
Crean Lutheran (24-6) will play at home Saturday in a regional semifinal game against Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks (20-7), a 66-60 winner over St. Anthony on Thursday. Tipoff Saturday is 6 p.m.
La Costa Canyon finished 21-8.
Keat and Miller are Crean Lutheran’s two best players. Keat, last’s season’s CIF Southern Section Division 2A player of the year, has struggled lately with swelling in his right knee that has slowed him in CIF Southern Section playoff games and forced him to sit out two regional games, including the Saints’ 63-60 win over Cathedral Catholic in the first round Tuesday.
Tests this week revealed no tears of ligaments or cartilage, making his return Saturday a possibility.
Crean Lutheran sophomore guard Vyctorious Miller scored 26 points in the Saints’ 68-50 win in the CIF SoCal Regionals … pic.twitter.com/ewT5CI0S5k
— Steve Fryer (@SteveFryer) March 4, 2022
Crean Lutheran controlled the game Thursday for all four quarters.
The Saints had a 17-4 lead midway through the first quarter in which Miller scored 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting and took a 20-15 advantage into the second quarter.
They outscored La Costa Canyon 20-9 in the second quarter in which the Mavericks were 2 for 11 from the floor including 0 for 7 on 3-pointers.
Both teams played erratically in the third quarter. Crean made 3 for 16 shots in the third quarter. La Costa Canyon was not much better, going 3 for 10, so the Saints still had a large lead, 48-35, going into the fourth.
Miller, a 6-6 sophomore whose shot-making skills are vast, scored seven points in the fourth quarter and fellow sophomore guard Darrell Morris scored six in the quarter to keep Crean Lutheran well ahead.
Crean senior guard Rui Han scored 10 points, going 5 for 5 from the floor. Morris finished with 11 points and eight rebounds. Saints 7-foot senior James Agany scored nine with eight rebounds.
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Crean Lutheran and its opponent in the regional final, Notre Dame, were both 0-3 in pool play in the CIF Southern Section Open Division playoffs.
The Saints have exploited the bonus opportunity provided by the regional playoffs. A victory over Notre Dame puts Crean Lutheran in Tuesday’s Southern California Regional championship game, and a win Tuesday would send the Saints to Sacramento for the CIF State Championships.