Senior guard Cory Blau and the Dana Hills boys basketball team will host Glendale in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 1A Championships on February 15. Photo by Tony Tribolet/
Senior guard Cory Blau and the Dana Hills boys basketball team will host Glendale in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 1A Championships on February 15. Photo by Tony Tribolet/

By Steve Breazeale and Victor Carno

Make sure to follow us on Twitter @SouthOCsports for in-game playoff scores, news and more.

When Push Came to Shove, the Dolphins Shoved Back

A less than desirable 2-2 start in Sea View League play really “woke up the team,” according to Dana Hills boys basketball head coach Tom Desiano.

A false sense of self-confidence turned into a sobering experience for Dana Hills during this season’s league play, as they quickly found themselves owning a .500 record in-league following back to back losses to San Clemente and Trabuco Hills on January 16 and January 18, respectively.

The Dolphins (20-7, 6-2 league) had their backs up against the wall as their bouts with teams in league grew more and more crucial to claiming their spot in the playoffs. It was gut check time.

“The team was disappointed that they weren’t going to take first place in the league, but we never feared not making it to the playoffs,” Desiano said.

The veteran coach continued to explain that his team took the initial losses as a humbling experience, and told them not to disregard opposing teams just because they had lower records and stats. This put a fire in the bellies of team every member, according to Desiano, and fueled them to rattle off five straight victories to end their season, securing their spot in the playoffs.

One of the teams they overcame during this impressive slew of triumphs was local rival San Clemente (17-10, 7-1).

Desiano recalls having a rocky start against the Tritons on January 25, when the first quarter came to a close and his team was down by 12 points. He urged the team to “bring it”, and in true come-from-behind fashion, the Dolphins outscored the Tritons in every remaining quarter to finish off the game with a 67-57 victory.

After that game Desiano knew something had finally clicked for the Dolphins. He accredits the turnaround to an increase in tempo and the mindset of smothering teams from the outset.

“We knew we had to push the tempo and jump on teams early,” Desiano said

From a statistical view, the Dolphins play gritty, man defense about 70 percent of the time and love to run full-court presses as well as half-court presses, subsequently forcing just over eight steals a game. Their average steals per game is also complimented with an average of nearly four blocks per game (3.9), which helped the Dolphins to keep San Juan Hills, Trabuco Hills, and Laguna Hills under 40 points during their victorious five game march.

Standout performances from Cory Blau and Ian Wright down the stretch played crucial roles in the Dolphins win streak. Blau averaged 18.5 points a game and Wright pulled down an average of about five rebounds a game during the regular season. This high powered offense mixed with a stout defense has made the Dolphins a contender.

Desiano is now preparing his team for a home game against Glendale (9-17) in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 1A Championships on February 15 at 7 p.m. Desiano stated he didn’t know too much about their opponent but has plans to watch game film soon. –Victor Carno

Charged Dolphin Offense Carries Team to Second Round

The Dana Hills girls water polo team knocked off Schurr 14-2 in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 2 Championships on February 12. Junior Molly Wilbur had five goals in the win. The Dolphins were set to play Long Beach Wilson in the second round on February 14. Results were not available at press time.

Dolphins Girls Basketball to Host in First Round

After winning the Sea View League title the Dolphins girls basketball team will play host to No. 16 seeded Riverside Poly on February 16 at 7 p.m.

The Dolphins (14-2, 6-2) played tough down the stretch considering they were without freshman Maddy Bloom, one of their top scorers, for two games. She returned in limited minutes to play in Dana Hills wins over Trabuco Hills (February 2), Mission Viejo (February 4) and their most recent loss to San Juan Hills on February 6. Head coach Rob Cullinan expects Bloom to be at full strength against Riverside Poly.

Riverside Poly (15-11, 4-8) comes into the contest on a two-game losing skid. Riverside Poly finished fifth in the seven-team Inland Valley League.

Girls Soccer Enters Playoffs as No. 2 Overall Seed
The task of defending their home-field advantage has now fallen to the Dana Hills girls soccer team as they head into the CIF-SS Division 1 Championships as the No. 2 overall seed and the top seeded team on their side of the bracket.

The Dolphins (11-1-4, 6-1-1) hosted University (10-5-4, 5-3-2), out of the historically competitive Pacific Coast League, on February 14. Results were not available at press time. Check back to for a full game story.

Boys Soccer Hits the Road
The Dana Hills boys soccer team will travel to play Harvard-Westlake in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 1 Championships on February 15 at 5 p.m. Harvard-Westlake earned a bid by placing second in the Mission League. The Dolphins enter the tournament as the No. 2 seed out of the Sea View League. If the Dolphins advance, they will play the winner of No. 1 seeded San Clemente vs. Leuzinger on February 20.

Nine Wrestlers Head to CIF
Nine Dana Hills wrestlers will compete at the CIF-SS Individual tournament from February 16 to February 17. Bradley Reyes, Grant Huntington, Arryan Kianipey, Austin Grimsley, Trevor Tribolet, Blaine Wagstaff, Ryan Minoofar, Christian Clemente and Brandon Ramirez will represent the Dolphins.

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