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Marina boys’ basketball stuns top seed to advance to CIF final

Teammates celebrate with Kylle Magdangal, center, after Marina beat Los Angeles Shalhevet.
Teammates celebrate with Kylle Magdangal, center, after Marina beat Los Angeles Shalhevet in a CIF Southern Section Division 3A playoff game on Thursday night.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Marina High School boys’ basketball coach Nick Racklin had watched five game films of Los Angeles Shalhevet senior guard Ze’ev Remer prior to Thursday night.

In each of them, Remer scored more than 30 points.

The same thing happened when the Vikings hosted the Firehawks in the CIF Southern Section Division 3A playoff semifinals.

Remer scored 37 points, 18 of those in the fourth quarter.

He put on a show, but it is Marina that’s moving on to the big dance.

The Vikings led nearly wire to wire in a 76-74 upset victory over top-seeded Shalhevet.

Marina celebrates after beating Los Angeles Shalhevet 76-74 in a CIF Southern Section Division 3A playoff game on Thursday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Marina (15-7) has advanced to a CIF final for the fourth time in school history, and the first time since 2004. The Vikings, who have not won a CIF title in program history, will play the winner of Friday night’s game between Glendora and No. 2-seeded Redlands Citrus Valley in the title game next Wednesday.

Sophomore point guard AJ Robinson scored a team-high 22 points Thursday night for Marina, which did it with more of a team effort. Junior guard Robert Aguirre scored 17 points, and forward Bradley Fronek — the team’s only senior starter — added 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Junior guard Kylle Magdangal scored 11 points.

Racklin, in his 10th year as Marina coach, said the team chemistry is the best it has been in a decade.

“Every kid on this team could walk and ride their bike to this school,” Racklin said. “No transfers, none of the [stuff] that comes with that. We did it with homegrown kids; that’s the most important thing.”

Marina's Bradley Fronek celebrates during a playoff game against Los Angeles Shalhevet on Thursday.
Marina’s Bradley Fronek celebrates during a CIF Southern Section Division 3A playoff game against Los Angeles Shalhevet on Thursday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Aguirre scored 13 of his points during a first-quarter blitz that saw Marina surge to a 26-12 lead. But by halftime, Shalhevet (20-3) had trimmed its deficit to just four points.

“We knew they were good and they were going to start hitting shots,” Aguirre said. “They’ve got some good guys over there. I think we boxed out and rebounded really well, and that’s what got us the game.”

The second half was tense. A three-pointer by Shalhevet’s Uzi Mermelstein gave the visitors their first lead, at 64-62, with 3:45 left. It was tied in the final two minutes, but Marina scored six straight points for a 72-66 advantage. The last two points came after Shalhevet coach Ryan Coleman was called for a technical foul with 1:03 remaining.

Robinson made two free throws with 23 seconds left to put Marina up five, but Mermelstein drained a corner three-pointer with seven seconds left. After Marina missed a pair of free throws — the second due to a lane violation — the visitors had a chance to tie or take the lead.

But an inbound play to Remer under the basket was broken up by Aguirre and out of bounds off Shalhevet, sealing Marina’s victory.

Sophomore Avi Halpert scored 21 points for Shalhevet, whose three losses this season have been by a combined seven points.

Marina's head coach Nick Racklin hugs Eric Hodgkins after beating Los Angeles Shalhevet on Thursday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Robinson said beating No. 4-seeded Santa Fe Springs St. Paul and top-seeded Shalhevet to make the finals has not fazed unseeded Marina. The Vikings finished second in the Wave League and played a tough preseason schedule, including a win against Servite and a competitive loss to Mater Dei.

“The one thing about this team is that we don’t care who’s on the other side,” Robinson said. “We care what’s going on with our side … We’re the underdogs, and we like that. We like being the underdogs, but we’ve shown everybody that we’re not the underdogs. We’re going to go to the finals and we’re going to win this thing.”

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CIF Southern Section Division 3A Playoffs

Semifinal

Marina 76, Shalhevet 74

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Shalhevet 12 – 16 – 19 – 27 — 74

Marina 26 – 6 – 22 – 22 — 76

S – Remer 37, Halpert 21, Pofsky 10, Mermelstein 6.

3-pt. goals – Remer 7, Halpert 3, Pofsky 2, Mermelstein 2.

Fouled out – None.

Technicals – None.

M – Robinson 22, Aguirre 17, Fronek 12, Magdangal 11, Hodgkins 8, Armstrong 6.

3-pt. goals – Aguirre 2, Armstrong 2, Fronek 1, Magdangal 1.

Fouled out – None.

Technicals – None.

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