Following Corona del Mar High's season-opening win over Westminster on Monday, coach Ryan Schachter pointed to two keys to winning the next game in its CdM Beach Bash tournament.
The keys to success against Lawndale Leuzinger were offensive execution and avoiding turnovers.
Schachter could not have been more correct. Unfortunately for his boys' basketball team, this confirmation did not equate to a CdM victory on Wednesday night.
The Sea Kings fell to the Olympians 66-62 for their first loss of the season, with turnovers and untimely cold stretches serving as the primary culprit.
The Sea Kings, who led 50-47 entering the fourth quarter, committed turnovers on three consecutive possessions twice in the final eight minutes. The first stretch occurred to start the final quarter, as Leuzinger scored five unanswered points to go up 52-50.
CdM would answer with an 8-2 run of its own to regain the lead. At the halfway mark of the fourth quarter, though, the Sea Kings' six-point advantage began to dissipate.
Leuzinger went on a 9-0 run amid another set of three consecutive turnovers for CdM, a stretch that ultimately proved to be the difference in the game.
Regardless of the disheartening outcome, though, the defensive effort against a talented opponent is a source of positivity going forward.
"Leuzinger is a good team," Schachter said of last season's CIF Southern Section Division 2A quarterfinalist. "They hit some tough shots. I thought for the most part, we defended well and made them make bad shots. And they did. That's what they had to do to beat us, and they made free throws and we didn't. But I'm proud of our guys. I thought the effort was great. If we just execute better, I think we come away with the W."
In addition to a solid defensive performance, the guard duo of senior Kevin Kobrine and sophomore John Humphreys continued to spur optimism for the Sea Kings.
Kobrine poured in a game-high 28 points, while Humphreys, a two-way football standout still acclimating to the basketball season, recorded 17 points. This improved upon a season opener in which the pair combined for 27 points.
Following the setback, Schachter hinted that CdM would rely on each player to remain aggressive offensively as the season progresses.
"[I like] their size and length on the perimeter, but also the way they are being aggressive," Schachter said. "They're looking to score first and pass second, which is what we need from them. Not being selfish, but we need those guys to be aggressive. They're long and athletic, and we're really looking for that inside-out [game]. Both guys can post, and both can put it on the floor and get to the rim."
Throughout a back-and-forth contest, sophomore guard Amound Anderson undoubtedly led the way for Leuzinger. Anderson carried the offense when it appeared to lose poise, and finished with a team-high 22 points, none bigger than a pair of free throws with 19 seconds left to ice the victory and a trip to the semifinals.
The Olympians (2-0) play Compton on Friday at 7:30 p.m. The other semifinal features Santa Margarita and Trabuco Hills at 6 p.m. The championship game is on Saturday at 7 p.m.
"He was my guy last year as a freshman," Leuzinger coach Arturo Jones said of Anderson. "He's for sure my guy this year as a sophomore. I could say everything about this kid. What he did tonight, going up to the line and making big-time free throws, making big-time threes, he did that last year as a freshman. He's the man all the way. He's poised, he gets it done, and I know I'm going to get good things out of him."
The Sea Kings will look to bounce back on Friday against Solana Beach Santa Fe Christian, with the tip-off scheduled for 4:30 p.m. The Eagles, who won the CIF San Diego Section Division I title last season, will prove to be another difficult test for CdM.
The Sea Kings can reach Saturday's fifth-place game, if they beat Santa Fe Christian. Edison, one of three local teams in the 12-team tournament, has a chance to advance to play for fifth as well with a win against Manhattan Beach Mira Costa on Friday at 3 p.m.
Kobrine is feeling confident in his team's ability to bounce back after taking Leuzinger down to the final seconds.
"We played really hard tonight," Kobrine said. "They made a lot of tough shots, and not every team is going to do that. We played really good defense, and I think we can compete against better teams at a high level."
Leuzinger 66, Corona del Mar 62
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Leuzinger 22 – 13 – 12 – 19 — 66
Corona del Mar 18 – 19 – 13 – 12 — 62
L – Anderson 22, Brown 13, Burford 9, Clausell 8, Chibueze 8, Ridley 4, Mex 2.
3-pt. goals – Anderson 2, Clausell 2.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.
CdM – Kobrine 28, Humphreys 17, Hamilton 6, Thabit 5, Flood 4, Stone 2.
3-pt. goals – Hamilton 2, Kobrine 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.