The Huntington Beach High boys' basketball team wiped out a slow start to Monday's MLK Day Challenge game against city rival Ocean View by turning in a stunning finish.
The Oilers faced a large deficit in the early going of their annual January clash with the Seahawks, but stormed back big-time in the fourth quarter and pulled away to a 79-61 nonleague victory at Ocean View.
The turnaround was staggering: Huntington had trailed by 16 points late in the first quarter and was down six points, heading into the final eight minutes. From that point on, though, it was all Oilers.
"I told the kids to be patient and don't get rattled," Huntington Coach Fabian Luna said after Ocean View had opened up a 22-6 lead with 2:37 left in the opening quarter. "We had been trading baskets with them in the first three quarters, but in the fourth quarter we locked down defensively and got to the basket on offense. We knew our advantage was to work from the inside out, and we did that in the fourth quarter."
The Oilers, ranked No. 11 in CIF Southern Section Division 1-A and now 14-7 overall, trailed, 57-51, going into the fourth quarter. Junior guard Ryan Morrissey hit his third three-pointer of the game just 15 seconds into the quarter and it ignited a 17-0 run that took the Oilers out to a 68-57 lead, with 3:03 left to play.
They led by no fewer than nine points the rest of the way.
Senior guard Andrew TenBrink hit 17 of 20 free throw attempts and led all scorers with 29 points. Senior forward Harley Ruder, who scored 10 straight points during the decisive, 17-0 spurt, poured in 25 points.
Sophomore guards Kendall Small and Tyler Burch scored 17 and 15 points, respectively, for Ocean View (13-6), ranked fourth in Division 3-A.
The win was the second of the season for Huntington against Ocean View. The Oilers had defeated the Seahawks, 61-54, on Dec. 12 at the Westminster Tournament. Ruder scored 32 in that game.
"Harley had a real nice second half," Luna said. "They were doubling on him in the first half, but we were able to work him inside in the second half. This was a game of power versus speed."
The Oilers moved into a tie for second place in the league standings with Edison and Los Alamitos by knocking off Edison, 63-58, Friday. TenBrink again led all scorers with 21 points, Ruder had 19 points and Morrissey added 11 points for Huntington.
Sophomore guard Derek Molina scored 14 points, sophomore guard Brae Ivey had 13 points and senior forward Harrison Brunelli added 10 points for Edison (No. 14, Division 1-A). The Chargers, who fell to 3-2 in league and 13-9 overall, play host to Newport Harbor at 7 p.m. Friday.
Ocean View improved to 3-0, which leads the Golden West League pack after the Seahawks crushed visiting Orange, 85-32, Friday. Burch led five Seahawks in double figures with 16 points.
Huntington begins the second half of Sunset League action Friday at home against league-leader Fountain Valley at 7 p.m. The Oilers are 3-2 in league, two games behind the 5-0 Barons.
Ocean View continues the second half of its league schedule Friday with a 7 p.m. game at Santa Ana.
Fountain Valley used a big second half Friday that allowed the visiting Barons to finish off Marina, 69-59, and in the process, finished the first half of the Sunset League title race undefeated.
"It's a Sunset League road win and it's a beautiful thing, no matter how you slice it," said Fountain Valley Coach Roger Holmes, whose team finished the first half of league play 5-0.
It wasn't easy. Marina led throughout much of the first half, but the Barons turned the tide with a blitz to start the second half. It paved the way to an eventual, 16-point lead, and it helped fend off a surge by the Vikings late in the fourth quarter.
"Our guys played hard and came out focused and fighting at the start of the game, but we tend to have one quarter in every game where we tend to fall apart," said Marina Coach Nick Racklin, whose team went to 0-5 in league. "That was the third quarter for us tonight."
Fountain Valley trailed by as many as eight points in the opening half, but rallied to within 32-30 at the break. The Barons forced a few turnovers to start the second half and used a 10-0 run out of the gate, to bolt to a 42-32 lead with less than two minutes elapsed.
Josh Armstrong scored eight of the 10 points during the spurt, just part of a superb game by the senior guard. Armstrong was in the zone most of the night, picking up the slack for his team, which was cold from the field in the first half.
He scored 21 of his career-high 38 points in the first half, 17 coming in the second quarter, and was a huge reason why Fountain Valley was able to win for the 17th time in 21 games.
The 17 wins matches last year's win total by the Barons.
"Josh went on a tear there in the second quarter," Holmes said. "He's really good with the ball and played a great game tonight."
Senior forward Hayden Winks' 14 points led four Marina players in double figures. Junior guard Derek Mallard scored 13 points and senior forward Casey Hayes and sophomore guard Gabe Copper both scored 12 points.
Fountain Valley and Marina start the second half of Sunset League play Friday. The Barons face a road test at Huntington, while the Vikings play host to Los Alamitos (3-2). Both games tip at 7 p.m.
"It's great to lead the league at the halfway point but it's just that — it's halftime," Holmes said. "We had tough ones in the first half of league against Los Alamitos and Edison, and here [at Marina] tonight, and we shot the ball really well against Huntington. The second half of league play figures to be just as tough."
Brethren Christian took the lead in the Academy League standings Friday by pulling away in the second half from St. Margaret's and scored a 63-46 victory over the Tartans before a packed gym at Vanguard University.
The Warriors, ranked fourth in Division 5-AA, led by one at halftime, but outscored the Tartans, 23-10, in the third quarter to gain control. The win upped their league mark to 4-0, while the Tartans, ranked 11th in Division 4-A, fell to 3-1.
Mamadou Ndiaye led BC with a game-best 23 points. The UC Irvine-bound senior center also collected 15 rebounds and blocked seven shots. Freshman forward Cameron Griffin had what Coach Jon Bahnsen called a "big game" with 14 points and nine rebounds. Sophomore point guard Brandon Bryson had "another great game," Bahnsen said, leading the Warriors with 11 assists and four steals with six points.
"It was a big win with a fun atmosphere," Bahnsen said. "Mamadou's college coaches from UCI were there and the gym was packed. We had a slow start, but the kids listened to halftime adjustments and we controlled the second half."
BC also took part Saturday in the Small School Showcase at Liberty Christian School in Huntington Beach. The Warriors took on California Lutheran and scored a 67-41 victory over the top-ranked team in Division 6. Junior guard Caleb Keller led the Warriors with 14 points and junior forward Patrick Poss had 11 points. Bahnsen said Bryson was given "Player of the Game" honors after a performance that featured five points, nine assists and 11 steals against the C-Hawks.
The Warriors, now 15-3 overall, continue Academy League play Friday and play host to Sage Hill at 8 p.m. at Ocean View High.
Weekly CIF Southern Section Boys' Basketball Rankings
Division 1-A: Huntington Beach, No. 11; Edison, No. 13.
Division 3-A: Ocean View, No. 4.
Division 5-AA: Brethren Christian, No. 4.