It was a nice gesture, but a bad sign when the more compassionate members of the Corona del Mar High School rooting section started cheering when Tulare Western scored. Tulare Western had made the 250-or-so-mile drive south to play Corona del Mar in the first round of the Southern California Regionals Division III playoffs. Things didn’t go so well.
Corona del Mar won, 80-47, and it wasn’t even that close.
Corona del Mar led, 21-6, by the end of the first quarter and, 40-17, by the end of the half. Tulare Western didn’t score in one 6-minute stretch during the first and second quarters. That’s when some of the Corona del Mar crowd started taking Tulare Western to heart.
This was an outclassed, not to mention outsized, Tulare Western team. It came into the game with a 9-16 record--the worst of any boys’ team in the regionals--and a reputation as a ragged, run-and-gun team that didn’t play much defense.
The rep was correct.
“They weren’t very disciplined at all,” said Paul Orris, Corona del Mar coach. “I told them (his team) at halftime no matter what the score is, don’t lower yourself to that style of play.”
Corona del Mar could have played any style it wanted, and chances are the results would have been the same. A big reason was the size advantage it held over Tulare Western, whose tallest player is 6-foot-3 forward Marvin Coleman. Corona del Mar dominated the backboards, outrebounding Tulare Western, 22-8, in the first half.
Corona del Mar’s 6-5 center Brian Spratt was matched against Tulare Western’s Rayland Elzy, who is 6-0. Spratt led Corona del Mar in scoring with 17 points, 13 in the first half. It was another impressive playoff performance for Spratt, who averaged nine points during the regular season, but has averaged 19 in the playoffs. Corona del Mar’s Matt Herrington and Jeff Jackson each had 10.
In all, 13 of Corona del Mar’s 14 players scored. In fact, a team of Corona del Mar reserves outscored Tulare Western’s starters, 20-12, in the fourth quarter.
“You get very few opportunities to get everyone involved,” Orris said. “I’m glad that we gave everyone a chance to score.”
Though Orris called it, “a fun game,” it doesn’t necessarily prepare Corona del Mar for Morningside, its second-round opponent on Thursday. Corona del Mar is well-acquainted with Morningside, having squeaked out a 57-56 victory in the 3-A semifinals.
Morningside defeated No. 1 seeded San Diego Lincoln, 81-67, Tuesday.
“I wish they (Tulare) had been a little better,” Orris said. “The competition Thursday will be miles above this.”
Coleman, who came into the game averaging 15 points a game, led Tulare Western with 19 points. But he didn’t score in the first half. Only one other Tulare Western player, Elzy, scored in double figures. He had 10 points.
Corona del Mar usually wins with defense. Tuesday marked the ninth time this season that it has limited an opponent to 47 points or less.