CORONA DEL MAR — Technical issues tend to arise in the first home game of any season.
At Corona del Mar High on Tuesday, the school tipped off the Beach Bash, its first annual boys' basketball tournament under Coach Ryan Schachter. During the Sea Kings' game against Long Beach Wilson, the scoreboard operator forgot to start the shot clock and game clock a handful of times.
The same referee kept coming to the scorer's table to remind the operator to adjust the clocks that the ref got a leg cramp.
Schachter told the man running the scoreboard that the problems were fixable in time for CdM's next game in the tournament. Who's not is the point guard who was supposed to run CdM's offense.
Schachter said Jeff Johnston, who earned All-Pacific Coast League second-team honors last season, is done for the season because of an injured back. The Sea Kings played without Johnston for the second game of the year, and they looked like they missed their floor leader during a 67-59 victory.
A 17-point CdM lead with 3:02 left to play seemed safe, until the Sea Kings almost fell apart down the stretch of their first pool-play game. They turned the ball over, missed free throws and received one technical foul for complaining to a ref.
One point is all the Sea Kings scored in the final 3:02. Against a better team, Schachter said CdM loses.
"It got sloppy," Schachter said. "We just got to learn how to close out games."
The Sea Kings (2-0) will have to figure out how to finish games without Johnston, who started last year as a sophomore.
Now that CdM lost a key player, Schachter expects juniors Charlie Coffman and Blake Flamson to direct the offense. Schachter wants his point guards to attack and push the tempo.
The pace began well, with the Sea Kings taking a 15-8 lead midway through the first quarter. They were stuck there for the rest of the quarter and Long Beach Wilson went on a 10-0 run.
The Bruins, one of eight teams in the five-day tournament, are a much-improved team from last season, when they finished 12 games below .500 and in fifth place in the Moore League. They challenged CdM, a CIF Southern Section Division 3-A quarterfinalist last season, for the entire first half, going into the break down, 29-27.
If Max Stone, with two seconds left in the first half, hadn't knocked down his third three-pointer in the second quarter, Long Beach Wilson would've led at halftime. Stone carried CdM with 25 points and the senior shooting guard finished with four three-pointers and he made each of his five free-throw attempts.
The rest of the Sea Kings went 10 for 22 from the charity stripe. The missed free throws troubled Schachter so much that at one point in the fourth quarter, after seeing one of his players finally convert one, he couldn't believe it. But the free-throw attempt didn't count because Long Beach Wilson forward Douglas Harris III had fouled out and was exiting the game.
"Are you going to count that one?" Schachter asked the ref.
The ref did give CdM senior Blake Grable a technical foul late. Schachter asked the ref why, and the ref pointed to his mouth, suggesting Grable ran his mouth.
"He told me he was asking the ref a question," Schachter said of Grable, who finished with 15 points and four of five from the free-throw line. "I can promise you it was a buildup from the whole game of him trying [to get calls]."
Everything began going CdM's way in the third quarter.
Helping the Sea Kings take a double-digit lead in the third was the play of one player who just joined the team after he contributed to the football team's CIF Southern Section Southern Division title win against Garden Grove on Saturday. Ryan Griffin, a 6-foot-4 senior, scored five straight points in a 12-second span late in the quarter.
Griffin also hustled for a ball going out of bounds in the fourth quarter. He saved the ball and passed it to another football player, Bo St. Geme. The sophomore guard nailed a three-pointer to give CdM a 66-49 lead, their biggest.
The Sea Kings play Edison on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
"He doesn't really know a lot of what we're doing and he just made plays," said Schachter, who is counting on Griffin and the rest of his players to elevate their play with Johnston undergoing back surgery soon. "[Not having Johnston is] only going to affect us negatively if we let it. We just have to play with what we got and focus on what we have and try to get better."
Beach Bash Tournament
Corona del Mar 67, Long Beach Wilson 59
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Wilson 18 – 9 – 11 – 21 — 59
CdM 15 – 14 – 19 – 19 — 67