The Corona del Mar High girls’ basketball team had a chance to claim the Surf League championship with a win in the regular-season finale last season.
After losing that game to Huntington Beach, the Sea Kings did not receive a berth into the CIF Southern Section Division 3A playoffs.
They also lost a pair of varsity veterans to graduation in point guard Samantha Uehara and center Tatiana Bruening.
It left the Sea Kings with questions to answer coming into this season, including the need to find ball-handling guards to join Trasara Alexander in the backcourt.
By and large, CdM appears to have answered the bell.
Freshman guard Dorothy Schwenck had a game-high 17 points on the strength of four three-pointers, leading CdM to a 61-43 win at rival Newport Harbor on Thursday night in the Battle of the Bay game.
CdM (15-5) has won 11 of its past 12 games, to the delight of Sea Kings coach Brason Alexander.
“I would have laughed and then made some bad, sarcastic joke,” he said when asked if he would have predicted 15 wins in his team’s first 20 games. “Really, I knew we could be there, but did I think we would be there? I [didn’t] know [about that]. I’m very pleased with it.”
The Sea Kings, ranked No. 11 in the CIF Southern Section Division 3AA poll, have also won nine in a row in the rivalry series against Newport Harbor (10-9).
Sophomore center Makena Tomlinson had 14 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots for the Sea Kings. She scored 10 of her points after gathering offensive rebounds.
“It’s a lot of fun to get a little nasty every once in a while,” Tomlinson said of playing against a physical Newport Harbor team. “They played a great game.”
Trasara Alexander finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and two steals. Sophomore guard Nia Halafuka added 10 points, two steals and two assists.
Sophomore guard Haley Esquino provided four points, six assists, six steals and five rebounds. She did not have to score a lot of points to make a difference.
“With Trasara sick, she had to play big, and I thought she was all over the place,” Brason Alexander said. “I look at her like a left-handed Rajon Rondo for us. Get some steals, hit some shots, finish and just be a pest.”
Schwenck has also relieved some of the scoring pressure. She has fit in seamlessly with her new teammates.
“It’s so much fun,” Schwenck said. “All of us are so comfortable with each other, and it’s great just being on this team. I love it.”
Newport Harbor fell behind 40-24 following a Schwenck three-pointer with 4:09 remaining in the third quarter.
The Sailors went on a run to end the period, and they entered the fourth quarter down just 43-34. Newport Harbor got baskets from four different players in that stretch, including Willa Rath’s first three-pointer of the season and a traditional three-point play by Cydney Jover.
Rath wound up with a team-high 15 points, four rebounds and four steals for Newport Harbor.
“She is a basketball player at heart,” Sailors coach Jillian Angell said. “That’s what she wants to do. She loves it. On defense, on offense, she is always there working hard.”
Angell said that Rath also plays field hockey and lacrosse, adding that she “plays hard 365 days a year.”
“She wants to be there playing sports, playing hard,” Angell added. “She just has the athletic fire in her.”
Emma Fults had 10 points and seven rebounds for the Sailors. Jover added six points, four rebounds, two assists and two blocks. Chloe Swanson pulled down eight rebounds, and Genevieve Perry chipped in with five points, a block and a steal.
Corona del Mar 61, Newport Harbor 43
Corona del Mar 12 – 17 – 14 – 18 — 61
Newport Harbor 9 – 8 – 17 – 9 — 43
CdM – Schwenck 17, Tomlinson 14, Alexander 12, Halafuka 10, Esquino 4, Beador 4.
3-pt. goals – Schwenck 4, Alexander 2, Halafuka 1.
Fouled out – Tomlinson.
Technicals – None.
NH – Rath 15, Fults 10, Jover 6, Perry 5, Swanson 3, Lin 2, Coatsworth 2.
3-pt. goals – Rath 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – Perry.
Support our sports coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.