Despite playing with more than a five-man roster for the first time in four games, the Southern High School Dolphins boys basketball team fell to the St. Paul Christian School Warriors 69-54 on Wednesday in Santa Rita.

At times, the Dolphins looked like a championship-level team, amassing a 10-0 run and excelling in all facets of the game. But without the full team having played together in real-life game situations, the more experienced, unselfish Warriors dominated the Dolphins.

From the opening play, the upset-minded Dolphins pushed the tempo and made the big plays. On the Warriors’ first shot, Southern’s Danny Quinata blocked the attempt, drove to the 3-point line and drained a jump shot.

The Dolphins’ EJ Cruz, playing in his first game of the season, stole the ball on the Warriors next possession and drove the length of the court for a fast break layup. After 41 seconds, the Dolphins led 5-0. Sensing the upset-minded Dolphins were looking to make a statement, St. Paul head coach Julian Canovas burned a timeout.

After making the necessary defensive adjustments and protecting the ball on offense, the Warriors outscored the Dolphins 21-5.

Without uncontested shots, the Dolphins struggled on offense. And with the Warriors’ Jacob Miranda running the point, St. Paul’s shooters turned crisp passes into valuable assists.

At the end of the first quarter, the Warriors’ Josiah Quintanilla and Xander Sanchez had scored 6 points apiece, and Jon Sevilla lit up the scoreboard for 5, including a shot from beyond the arc.

After falling behind by 12 points, the Dolphins opened the second quarter with a shooting bonanza. Brennan Cruz, who was held scoreless in the opening period, scored 10 of his 15 points in the period, including a pair of 3-pointers.

The Warriors, who dominated the first quarter, struggled on offense but still led 32-28 at the half.

For the next eight minutes, the Dolphins seemed to be playing on tired legs. Instead of working for open shots and passing the ball inside, Southern looked for 3-point opportunities. The Dolphins managed to make three shots from deep, but no other shots fell through the cylinder. Although they finished the quarter 5-of-6 from the charity stripe, with Sanchez and Sevilla heating up, it wasn’t nearly enough.

The Dolphins, slow on the offensive glass, saw long misses turn into long rebounds, leading the way to fast, easy transition buckets.

While the Dolphins chilly shooting percentage hovered in the teens, Sanchez and Sevilla poured in another 7 points apiece, including 8-of-9 from the free throw line.

“It feels great to win,” said Sevilla, who finished tied with Sanchez for a co-game-high 17 points.

In St. Paul’s previous game, the Warriors had lost to the defending champion Father Duenas Memorial School Friars 46-39, and did not want to lose a second game in a row.

“Last game motivated us. It made us humble,” said Sevilla, whose big night included a no-look, one-handed swish, drawing and converting the and-one. “That was just a circus shot. I just got the rebound, I pump-faked and I went for the foul. I just threw it up and luckily it went it.”

Heading into the fourth quarter, the Dolphins trailed by 13 points. And with Quintanilla, who had finished with 15 points, lighting up for another 7 points, the Warriors led by as much as 18 and put the game out of reach.

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