As players warmed up in the Corona del Mar High gym, Magnolia Coach Matt Tweed talked to a couple of fans in the stands that made the road trip to support his boys' basketball team.
The topic was running, not the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 3AA basketball playoffs. He told the fans about CdM's well-known distance coach, Bill Sumner.
The school's basketball team ended up running circles around Magnolia on the court. Fourth-seeded CdM ran away from the Sentinels in the second half en route to a 58-27 win on Wednesday.
The matchup marked the second between these programs this season. Each ended in blowout fashion, the one in December the Sea Kings won by 45 points, their most lopsided result.
The Sea Kings (20-6) expect a much closer contest in the second round on Friday, when they play host to Palm Desert (19-5) at 7 p.m. They get to play the Desert Valley League champion at home because the Sea Kings won the coin flip.
"It wasn't as clean as I would like it to be," said CdM Coach Ryan Schachter, whose team made 20 of 71 shots and four of 28 from behind the arc. "We got to clean some things up, and, you know, just get better.
"Having played them before, I think maybe had something to do with our guys' mindset."
The last time CdM faced Magnolia, at the Charlie Wilkins Memorial Tournament in Westminster, four Sea Kings finished in double figures. Only one hit that mark in the second meeting.
Robby Bracho finished with 19 points, 14 of those coming in the first half. The senior almost accounted for half of CdM's points at halftime.
Bracho knocked down five of his first eight shots, including two three-pointers. Magnolia, which trailed, 30-15, at the break barely outscored Bracho through the first two quarters.
"If he doesn't come out firing, it might be a different game," Schachter said. "He came out shooting well and that carried us. I'd like him to keep the aggression, though."
Bracho added five points and his third three in the third quarter. Others stepped in and provided offense in the third quarter for CdM, a semifinalist last season.
Austin Ridge recorded five of his seven points in the third, and Tyler Lopp and Bo St. Geme each had four points in the quarter, before they finished with six points. Lopp came away with six steals.
Turnovers plagued Magnolia (8-16), the third-place team from the Orange League. The Sentinels turned the ball over 28 times, a handful of times trying to inbound the ball. Referees called the Sentinels for a 5-second violation, and another time for stepping over the line before taking the ball out.
When the Sentinels successfully got the ball in, they either lost it because of CdM's pressure defense, or they missed a shot. The Sentinels shot a dismal 25% from the floor and they failed to make a three-pointer in nine attempts.
In the fourth quarter, Magnolia converted just one of 14 shots, allowing CdM, which shared the Pacific Coast League title, to rout an opponent for the first time in a month. Eight of the Sea Kings' 10 league games were decided by a combined 27 points.
Schachter got to enjoy an easy one with his team and his family. His wife, Crystal, and their two kids, Kent, 3, and Alexandria, 9, attended the game. The game against Magnolia got so ugly that Alexandria had a question for her father.
"Did we win a championship?" Alexandria said.
"No, baby," said Schachter, knowing the Sea Kings are four wins away from claiming their first section title in seven seasons.
CIF Southern Section Division 3AA playoffs
Corona del Mar 58, Magnolia 27
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Magnolia 5 – 10 – 10 – 2 — 27
Corona del Mar 14 – 16 – 19 – 9 — 58
M – Torres 8, Cooper 5, Rios 4, Coleman 4, Zueleta 2, Lima 2, Tavaki 2.
3-pt. goals – None.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.
CdM – Bracho 19, Johnston 8, Ridge 7, Lopp 6, St. Geme 6, Fults 5, Kobrine 4, Flamson 2, Shaw 1.
3-pt. goals – Bracho 3, Ridge 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.