CORONA DEL MAR — Ramon Mejia goes by “Mojo Jojo” on the Corona del Mar High boys’ basketball team. The junior actually likes the nickname, which comes from a character from the Powerpuff Girls cartoon.
Mejia definitely had the “Mojo” part working for him Friday night.
The guard started the fourth quarter with a three-pointer and closed it out with a flurry of threes. Someone had better guard Mejia the next time he steps on the court during the CIF Southern Section Division III-A playoffs.
Mejia swished six of his eight three-pointers in the fourth and finished with 28 points, as the fifth-seeded Sea Kings routed San Marcos of Santa Barbara, 67-48, in the second round at home. The crowd rushed the floor nine seconds after Mejia nailed his last three.
A throng of fans went after Mejia and he raised his arms in triumph. The Sea Kings (24-3) continue to win, make it 18 in a row, and their date in the quarterfinals is set for Tuesday at home against fourth-seeded Gahr of Cerritos.
Coach Ryan Schachter is expecting a larger home crowd. He joked the Sea Kings’ fans were in Mammoth or Big Bear during ski week. Too bad because they missed a memorable shooting night turned in by Mejia.
The Royals’ faithful came in two charter buses, showing a strong presence. One fan for San Marcos (20-5) left bitter and tried to ruin Mejia’s night, saying he had no class.
It wasn’t Mejia’s fault he reached a career-high for threes in a game.
“I’m sorry,” said Mejia, who was six for seven from the three-point line in the final eight minutes.
“Man, my coach told me to shoot, so I had to shoot.”
Schachter has witnessed Mejia’s hot hand many times, mostly in practice. Danny Cheek said the Sea Kings close out each workout with 75 threes.
Schachter will gladly take 13 of 24 three-pointers in a postseason game. The deadly outside shot helped Schachter lead the Sea Kings to the quarterfinals for the third time in his four seasons in charge.
Cheek was the one that started nailing threes for the Sea Kings in the opening 2 1/2 minutes. The junior made back-to-back threes, and added a third in the second quarter.
Cheek finished with four threes and 15 points. He’s also responsible for naming Mejia after he transferred to CdM from Durfee High in Fall River, Mass.
“We play around like that,” Cheek said.
The fun play ended when Mejia missed the final five minutes of the third quarter after picking up his third foul. San Marcos made a run during the stretch.
Christian Mkpado converted back-to-back three-point plays at the free-throw line. What was once a 17-point lead for CdM was trimmed to 10 heading into the fourth. Mkpado finished with 14 points.
Mejia returned for the start of the fourth. He was one of three starters in foul trouble. The only trouble Mejia created the rest of the way was with his shot.
On the opening possession, Cheek found Mejia. Twenty-one seconds in, Mejia was on his way to sending San Marcos back to Santa Barbara.
Midway through the fourth, Mejia again drained a three. Parker Stone dished the ball to a wide-open Mejia in the corner.
Whereas the Royals went 17 minutes without a three-pointer, Mejia knocked down four threes in the last 1:44. Mejia made it look easy and he can’t wait for another chance to entertain the home fans.
“It’s more competition,” Mejia said of facing Gahr, last season’s section runner-up finisher. “We didn’t have competition in [winning the Pacific Coast League title]. I really want to face competition because I know our boys can do it.”
The Sea Kings know their “Mojo Jojo” can perform on the grand stage.
CIF Division III-A
Corona del Mar 67, San Marcos 48
SCORE BY QUARTERS
SM – Manzo 16, Mkpado 14, Koopmans 5, Guild 4, Ridenour 3, Dodson 2, White 2, Kirkwood 2.
3-pt. goals – Manzo 1, Koopmans 1.
Fouled out – Kirkwood.
Technicals – None.
CdM – Mejia 28, Cheek 15, Ragsdale 5, McCormack 5, Campbell 4, Haly 4, Stone 3, Heinecke 2, Quon 1.
3-pt. goals – Mejia 8, Cheek 4, Stone 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.