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Corona del Mar boys’ basketball advances to Artesia Winter Classic semifinals with win over Whittier

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Corona del Mar’s Jack Stone battles Whittier’s Jeremiah Villescas on the baseline in a pool-play game of the Artesia Winter Classic on Wednesday in Lakewood.
(Tim Berger / Staff Photographer)

In his 14th year in charge of the Corona del Mar High boys’ basketball program, coach Ryan Schachter brought the Sea Kings to the Artesia Winter Classic this season.

Schachter said the drive from Newport Beach to Artesia wasn’t too bad on Tuesday or Wednesday. His reason for entering the 12-team tournament was simple.

“We wanted to get out of Orange County, so we figured we’d come here,” he said. “It’s good to get out of Orange County and play different teams. In Orange County, there’s not a lot of teams that play like Whittier and make you have to work and be on your game. It was good for us.”

The Sea Kings are young this year, with just one returning starter in senior guard Jack Stone. They did have their hands full Wednesday night with a physical Whittier squad, but came up with the plays when they needed them.

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Stone scored a game-high 26 points and the Sea Kings won the pool-play game 55-42 at Artesia High.

CdM (2-1) won Pool A and advances to the semifinals, where the Sea Kings will play Los Angeles Fremont on Friday at 6 p.m.

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Corona del Mar’s Jack Stone drives and leans back to shoot against Whittier’s Jaime Albarran in a Artesia Winter Classic pool-play game on Wednesday in Lakewood.
(Tim Berger / Staff Photographer)

Stone, who made just one of his first seven shots, overcame his rough start. He scored 15 points in the fourth quarter, including three of his four three-pointers and six straight free throws down the stretch.

Stone averaged 14 points per game last season but is averaging 28.7 points per game through three games this season.

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“It feels good,” said Stone, a Carnegie Mellon commit. “A lot of these young kids — I say that and I’m only 18 years old — but a lot of these young kids just need to face some adversity. It’s different coming from [the] freshman [and] JV [teams]. These are teams that are way more physical and they scout you and know what you’re going to do. I’m just happy that these kids battled and could come out with a win.”

The Tritons were CIF Southern Section Division 4AA finalists last season and return St. Mary’s College commit Judah Brown and Houston Mallette.

Whittier (4-2) trailed 29-13 at halftime but cut into its deficit in the third quarter. Jeremiah Villescas made two three-pointers in the quarter, and Danny Calvillo’s runner in the paint at the buzzer brought the designated home team within 36-32 headed to the fourth quarter.

But Stone opened the fourth quarter with back-to-back three-pointers to push CdM’s lead back to 10 points. Whittier got no closer than six points the rest of the way.

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Corona del Mar’s Jack Mckenna, center, drives inside and turns as he is double-teamed on the baseline by Whittier’s Jeremiah Villescas, left, and Vincent Rizo in a Artesia Winter Classic pool-play game on Wednesday in Lakewood.
(Tim Berger / Staff Photographer)

“They’re scrappy, and it’s good for our guys,” Schachter said. “We’re not real used to teams that are scrappy, you know, grab and hold and play physical. It made us off-kilter a little bit. They didn’t allow us to run real smoothly in our offense, and credit to them for really grinding. They played real hard and they made it a ballgame.”

Junior guard Matt DeCrona and freshman guard Efe Gucoglu each scored seven points for CdM, while senior guard Cade Overfelt scored five. Junior forward Asher Hamilton had four points and a team-best eight rebounds.

The Sea Kings handled the physical game well, making 16 of their 18 free throws. Stone was perfect from the free-throw line, making all 10 shots.

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“We practice hard like that, so we’re used to it,” Stone said. “It’s just that when you get in the game it’s different, and you’ve got to keep your composure. I thought we did that well.”

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Artesia Winter Classic

Pool play

Corona del Mar 55, Whittier 42

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Corona del Mar 8 – 21 – 7 – 19 — 55

Whittier 5 – 8 – 19 – 10 — 42

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CdM – Stone 26, DeCrona 7, Gucoglu 7, Overfelt 5, Cohen 4, Hamilton 4, Fairchild 2.

3-pt. goals – Stone 4, Gucoglu 1.

Fouled out – None.

Technicals – None.

W – Calvillo 9, Arciniega 7, Rizo 7, Gomez 7, Villescas 6, Alawad 4, Castillo 2.

3-pt. goals – Villescas 2, Rizo 2, Calvillo 1.

Fouled out – Villescas.

Technicals – None.

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